30 September 2020

With Interview with Mr Holger Haibach, Director, Foundation Office Croatia and Slovenia, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and former Member of the German Bundestag (2002-2011), we spoke about Germany’s EU Presidency, integration processes of Western Balkans, coronavirus pandemic and other security challenges.

‘Handling the corona pandemic, the Financial Framework for 2021-2027 and the EU Recovery Fund as well as a post-Brexit treaty are the most important issues at hand for German EU Presidency.’

KAS Foundation Office Croatia and Slovenia is very active and organizes many activities and projects. KAS is also a long-term and reliable partner to RACVIAC in jointly organizing series of activities aimed toward enabling open and comprehensive discussions on emerging security challenges for Europe and South East European countries, in particular since 2014.Can you shortly explain what you do and name some of the most important projects?

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has offices in 107 countries and 18 locations in Germany. In that manner we implement projects in over 200 countries. Since the Konrad Adenauer Foundation began operating in Croatia in 2001, we have focused on several areas: civil society and citizen participation in decision-making process, encouraging Croatia on its path to EU membership, joining the Schengen area and the Eurozone. Our goal was to support transformation of the economic model into a social market economy following the example of Germany and to contribute to regional security through cooperation with RACVIAC and other associations in the field of security, helping to preserve Croatia's status as a partner and as a bridge between the European Union and the Western Balkans. We cooperate with representatives of political parties and foundations as well as with society stakeholders in Croatia and Slovenia.

The current COVID-19 has not so much affected our work itself, but it has changed the way we work. And it was also affected by the earthquake that hit Zagreb on March 22, 2020. Among the buildings that were damaged in the earthquake and declared statically unsafe is the building where the Foundation's office was located. That is why we had to design new formats of our work, taking into account the fact that we carry out our activities not only in Croatia, but also in Slovenia. We decided to rent a TV studio and broadcast online formats such as webinars, conferences and interviews, which proved to be extremely successful. Although we can now hold "offline" meetings again, we will keep newly developed online formats as an important part of our activities.

We can highlight our latest projects in the field of security, our international conference "2020 Zagreb Security Forum" held in September in Zagreb and the "Croatian Days of Security 2020" in Opatija, which are just ahead of us.

On 1 July 2020, the Federal Republic of Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). What are the main priorities of Germany’s EU Presidency?

The program of the German EU Presidency is titled “Gemeinsam. Europa wieder stark machen.” (Making Europe strong together again, official English title: “Together for Europe’s Recovery”). Initially the program of the German Presidency within the trio of the German, the Portuguese and the Slovenian Presidency was agreed on already last year, but had to be rewritten and revised in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It now foresees six focal points: 1. Europe’s Response to the COVID19-pandemic, 2. A stronger and more innovative Europe, 3. A fair Europe, 4. A sustainable Europe, 5. A Europe of security and common values, 6. An effective European Union for a rule-based international order anchored in partnership. Within those focal points the most important issues at hand are, apart from handling the corona pandemic, to find an agreement on the Financial Framework for the years 2021 to 2027 and the EU Recovery Fund with regards to the pandemic as well as negotiating a post-Brexit treaty with the United Kingdom.

‘The top priority now is overcoming the corona pandemic and finding common solutions in that area.’

As coronavirus pandemic is an overwhelming topic since February this year, and taking into account that there was some criticism that EU didn’t react properly at the beginning, allow me to ask you if Germany plans to change it during its Presidency and how?

As mentioned above, Germany has completely revised the program for the Presidency. The top priority now is overcoming the corona pandemic and finding common solutions in that area. This goes for dealing with crisis right now, but also with the long term consequences: economic recovery on one hand and developing and improving crisis response mechanisms on EU level on the other.

How do you assess current EU integration processes of Western Balkans and to what extent (if) corona crisis will affect it?

In my opinion the EU has shown its commitment to the region of the Western Balkans by giving green light for opening accession negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania during the Croatian Presidency in the first half of this year. I do not think that the corona crisis will affect the process as such, other than in the area of travel restrictions. It may increase the need to “virtualize” parts of the negotiations. In light of the current situation this is something we will get used to in many areas.

‘The German Presidency explicitly states that all the countries of the Western Balkans should have a perspective to become members of the EU, given that they fulfill the criteria for accession.’

How much is the EU aware of the importance if the Western Balkans integration for the overall EU security and stability? In that sense, will Germany, during its Presidency, continue what Croatia has started during its Presidency – strongly advocate for accession process of North Macedonia and Albania?

Germany has always been in favour of the integration of the Western Balkans in the European Union. The German Government has been on the forefront of the supporters when it came to open negotiations with regards to the accession of Northern Macedonia and Albania to the EU. Croatia and Germany have been working very closely to ensure that during their respective presidencies progress is being made in the field of a deeper integration of the Western Balkans in the EU. Consequently, the program of the German Presidency explicitly states that all the countries of the Western Balkans should have a perspective to become members of the EU, given that they fulfill the criteria for accession. Germany has announced that it aims at opening formal negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania during its Presidency.

How do you evaluate the impact of the non-EU actors on stability and security in SEE? Can the EU do more, and if yes, what can it do for stability in SEE region?

I believe that the EU should be very interested in stabilizing SEE and the Western Balkans. Not only because of the region itself, but also because it plays an important role in securing peace and stability in all of Europe. The refugee crisis of 2015 has shown that very clearly. Other actors like Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf states have long ago recognized the importance of the region and are trying to secure their interest. The EU has, alongside and working together with the United States, every interest in ensuring that the region is stable and able to develop in a democratic and sustainable way.

‘The EU has yet to find a common approach, when it comes to regulating migration.’

What do you think about strengthening EU defence dimension or forming of EU military force?

I believe that the EU has the obligation to develop its own defence dimension. Especially, with regards to that, Brexit has been a big loss to the EU, given that the UK, next to France, is the strongest, most developed and robust military force in Western Europe. If the EU wants to further develop its defence dimension, and as already said, it should, it will have to find a way to keep the UK on board, irrespective of Brexit. However, a stronger European effort in security and defence should always be embedded in the structures of NATO. None of the countries which are members of the EU and NATO at the same time can, will or should set up double structures, when it comes to defence. On the other hand, the countries of the Western Balkans in particular have in the past looked more up to the United States when it came to their own security, than they have to the EU. The EU will have to take over more responsibility with regards to safeguarding the security in its own neighbourhood.

What is the impact of migrations on EU, in economic, social and security context? How does the EU have to manage the migration processes in the future?

The EU has yet to find a common approach, when it comes to regulating migration. Migration is going to happen either way, be it illegal and unregulated or legal and regulated. The current situation, which is defined by ad hoc decisions to address the most urgent issues, may help for a moment, but it will not solve the matter as such. So finding a compromise that helps the border states, which are mostly affected by migration, makes sure that migration is still manageable in the economic, social and security context and gives people the chance to migrate in dignity, will be one of the key challenges for the EU in the years to come. The current EU Commission has seen the need to find solutions in that area, for instance in addressing the reasons for migration and by resolving that, safeguarding that migration does not happen unregulated in the first place.

Mr Haibach was Member of the German Bundestag from 2002 to 2011, where he was a Deputy Member of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid Committee, as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee. He was the chairman of the working group on Economic Cooperation and Development of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. He was also a member of the Subcommittee on Disarmament and Arms Control, and of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Sustainable Development.

In 2011, he gave up his mandate as Member of the German Parliament in order to become Country Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Namibia and Angola. From 2014 -2015, he was heading the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Office in Chile. From 2015-2018 he was head of the Central Tasks and Services Department of CDU Germany. Since 2019 Mr Haibach is Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office Croatia and Slovenia.

15 May 2020

With PhD Robert Mikac, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb, and an internationally recognized expert in several different security areas, we spoke about how Croatia is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, EU’s response and what the world be like afterwards.

‘When we talk about the reaction to a crisis, it is multi-layered and significantly different depending on the angle from which you look at it and analyze it, and to which part you refer.’

Professor Mikac, before we start talking in more detail about how Croatia and the whole world are struggling with the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, can you explain what in fact a crisis is? How do we define it, or, according to which parameters?

Crises are states, conditions and beliefs in which objectively, and/or, subjectively our regular functions, way of life and activities are disturbed to a greater or lesser extent. They are characterized by common features: the threat to acquired values, insecurity and the time pressure under which decisions need to be made. There are a number of classifications according to which we can classify crises and deal with them, and they are conditioned by four reference levels of crisis analysis. The stated levels are: the state, organization as a business entity, group or society, and the individual. In crises it is also necessary to point out that these are subjective constructions because it is very difficult to clearly distinguish them conceptually, theoretically and empirically from other similar and complementary terms and concepts, such as an extraordinary event and catastrophe when we talk about concepts, and concepts that directly or indirectly deal with crisis and emergency management and are very similar or complementary.

In addition, the science that deals with this area is still a relatively young discipline so when we talk about crises, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us. But in order not to claim that everything related to crises has a negative connotation, it should be pointed out that every crisis is also an opportunity to correct certain things (laws, procedures, ways of coordinating and communicating, the public procurement process, etc.) and that one should never miss the opportunity to learn during and after the crisis and each time come out of it more capable in view of the next or similar crises.

How is crisis management regulated in the Republic of Croatia? How does the existing legal framework reflect on the operational and tactical level?

The Republic of Croatia has a lot of experience when it comes to dealing with and dealing with crises in practice, but, normatively, we do not keep up with previous experiences and the international practice. When we talk about the sectoral approach this is where we stand better than when it comes to issues concerning cross-sectoral activities. Each sector has regulated the crisis area in its own way and is quite successful in dealing with it. The Internal Security Sector, the Civil Protection Sector, the Water Management and Flood Defense Sector, and Fire Interventions are just some examples of tasks done very well within their jurisdiction - where we must be aware that absolute security does not exist and that every incident cannot be stopped and/or prevented or that an emergency situation cannot be prevented from turning into a crisis.

Intersectorally it was only in 2017 that we adopted a definition of the crisis for the first time in the Homeland Security System Act and opened up the space for regulating this area. Thus, we operationalized the strategic vision from the National Security Strategy from 2017 into a normative solution. The Law on the Homeland Security System has set the framework and direction for the development of this area for the future but there is still a lot of work ahead of us to turn the strategic vision and normative solution into an effective crisis and emergency management system at the intersectoral level. What is important is that everyone looks at this area in their own way and it will be very difficult to find people and experts in Croatia who will have the same opinions when it comes to issues such as crisis, crisis management and crisis communication. This also presents a good side of things because each discussion can open up new perspectives and views that need to be analyzed and we should see how best to turn them into solutions that we will all benefit from.

‘As far as the public health part is concerned Croatia has reacted very well, from the preparation to the immediate management of the situation and through various accompanying events.’

The Republic of Croatia was hit by a pandemic during very difficult times that spanned the presidency of the European Union, the threat of a new wave of refugees, etc. Can you explain this situation a bit?

In a very short period of time Croatia found itself exposed to several different crises in terms of their character, consequences and the necessary capabilities to respond to them. At the time we assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union - which is our first such experience - the Union itself was (and still is) in a deep structural crisis on several different levels: the United Kingdom was withdrawing from full membership; there was a threat of a new migration wave in Europe; individual member states were pursuing internal policies contrary to the common positions and values of most other member states. These are strategic crises of the highest political level. Then, some Croatian strategic companies (which by definition can be classified as national critical infrastructures), such as INA, found themselves under serious cyber attacks that lasted for weeks and in which they suffered significant economic damage, as well as domino effects and numerous other actors associated with them. At that moment, we, as well as the whole world, were hit by the COVID-19 crisis and the earthquake in Zagreb, its surroundings and parts of Zagorje, on March 22, 2020. So, in a very short period of time we found ourselves in several parallel crises, all of which are different in nature and have different consequences.

All of the above has led to the engagement of significant resources of our country, and some have had to deal with two or more crises at the same time, which put all those involved in front of great challenges. This number, diversity and dynamism of crises from the international strategic level to the tactical one, in various parts of our country, has led to a situation in which the whole country, its political and professional part, are facing temptations that I guess they never thought could exist - and everything happened to them within a few weeks. Many larger countries, which have a longer tradition of dealing with crises, and more significant resources, would have faced numerous challenges and problems in this set of circumstances. Therefore, generally speaking, we managed to get by without catastrophic consequences, and the analyses that need to be carried out should show how real the current and long-term damage is.

Looking back the Republic of Croatia seems to have reacted well already at the beginning of the spread of the pandemic. What has the Republic of Croatia done differently or better than other countries?

The answer to your question has two fundamentally different answers. One is related to the public health part, the other to the issue of several other, equally important sectors. As far as the public health part is concerned Croatia has reacted very well, from the preparation to the immediate management of the situation and through various accompanying events. The situation has been monitored since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in China, and especially since the first large numbers of infected people began to appear in Europe, primarily in our neighborhood, Italy. Therefore, the Crisis Headquarters of the Ministry of Health were activated at the end of January, and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia in mid-February, and both began working on preparatory actions for the crisis ahead which turned out to be the right decisions because we were then ready to deal with the first case of a sick person in Croatia on February 25, 2020, and all the other cases after that. Activation of these two headquarters, their constant work and support of the institutions such as the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the entire health system, and then the activation of the entire civil protection system according to the depth criterion, enabled timely crisis management and the result you categorized as a good response.

As for the other sectors, and I am referring mostly to the economy, tourism and finance, they were definitely surprised by the crisis and already when it started happening they could not pick themselves together and start acting at the level of public health to start acting the way they would be expected to act in a crisis. As a result, a number of harmful consequences occurred that could have been less pronounced if these sectors were ready to face the crisis, if they had begun to prepare for the crisis at the first risk indicators, if they were better equipped and more organized for what was about to happen inevitably.

So, when we talk about the reaction to a crisis, it is multi-layered and significantly different depending on the angle from which you look at it and analyze it, and to which part you refer.

‘The European Union was late in its reaction. After a late reaction, and when the member states closed down and determined that each would try to deal with the crisis on its own, there was no longer an opportunity to change such a discourse.’

This crisis has clearly shown that different countries have responded differently to the crisis, mostly by closing in and taking care only of themselves. How do you interpret that?

Yes, states have predominantly decided to close down and try each to find the best path or solution for themselves to deal with the crisis. Those who reacted faster and earlier generally have better results in this crisis than those who either did not respond in a timely manner, or, sufficiently, or, with a sufficient number of measures. However, in-depth analyses of the success and purposefulness of the measures taken have yet to be carried out. Looking from a European perspective, Sweden reacted significantly differently than most other countries, hasn’t had worse results than others and in the long run we will see if their choice was better and more successful than that of countries that closed as much as possible, "shut down" the economy and significantly restricted the movement of their citizens.

Going back to the very approach of states to this crisis closure within their borders was a short-term solution because the challenge is global and the responses are local and uncoordinated. So, with this approach, some countries may have reduced the consequences of the first wave of coronavirus, but the question is whether they can react in the same way with the second, third and each subsequent wave of the coronavirus. Because if they chose the option of completely closing and stopping most economic processes every time this would very quickly cause the collapse of a significant number of economic branches and industries and have extremely severe consequences for the entire economy and citizens.

Therefore, next time, there should be a global reaction to the next corona wave, which is hard to expect, so, at least a regional one, at the level of the European Union and/or the whole of Europe.

What do you think about the reaction and moves of the European Union? Was the EU response timely and adequate?

I think that the European Union was late in its reaction. Ursula von der Leyen's statement that politicians underestimated this crisis is also on this track. Which on the one hand we can understand because we are talking about a cumbersome mechanism that takes time to get up and running, but on the other hand it’s also a very expensive delay and a question of responsibility that will clearly not happen or be posed. Of its many integrations, the Union has started the integration in the field of security among the last, so it is still creating and developing its mechanisms in this area. But for an organization where human, financial and intellectual potential has never been at stake, much more is expected. The Union can be said to have unlimited resources and opportunities, so we should regret all the time lost in which crisis management mechanisms have not been developed, conceptualized and put in place that could and should have resolved crises like this one without too much effort.

After a late reaction, and when the member states closed down and determined that each would try to deal with the crisis on its own, there was no longer an opportunity to change such a discourse. The Union, therefore, turned to support processes, the coordination of certain activities, financial support and the search for its niche in this crisis. A much more appropriate role would be strong preventive action, elaboration of scenarios, creation of a unique situational picture of risks and processes, modeling of potential situations and imposing oneself as a leader who will manage the crisis from the center point, leaving states to resolve their own specifics.

‘You see that global forces are not ready - which is paradoxical, because they are capable - to try to solve any global challenge.’

The crisis has also revealed a number of shortcomings and weaknesses, not only in regards to responses by individual countries but also globally. Can you comment on that a bit?

Certainly, as every crisis reveals shortcomings and weaknesses. Since this is a global crisis of enormous proportions large problems and omissions are noticeable in proportion to that. At the beginning of the crisis many around the world hoped that this was an opportunity to sober up, return to true values and needs, cooperate and build a better world. But the course of the crisis illuminates and shows that we are not moving in that direction and that global disputes between major powers continue where every opportunity is a good opportunity to accuse the opposite side of just about anything, where everything is useful as ammunition in denigration. Such an approach is counterproductive to the pursuit of global dialogue and the attempt to address global challenges. You see that global forces are not ready - which is paradoxical, because they are capable - to try to solve any global challenge. For the rest of us, but also the inhabitants of these globally central states, this means that we are hostages of a small and narrow circle of people which do not allow us to live on a planet that would have significantly fewer crises than the number they create.

The duration of a pandemic cannot be predicted and, therefore, its consequences. What do you think the world will be like afterwards, what can we expect?

We can expect pretty much the same world after this crisis. We will return to old habits and lifestyles with a number of measures that will still be restrictively in force because a second wave of coronavirus could hit us very quickly. What would be useful is to do an in-depth analysis and see what we have done well, and what less well, at all levels - from the political to professional to us as individuals. But experience shows us that we in the Republic of Croatia have not been ready for such a thing so far, we have not done in-depth analyzes of previous crises and turned identified lessons into practice, changing the way we organize and act, all in order to be more successful next time in less time, by investing less financially and with less stress. Yes, we adopt certain things, it is more experiential, not procedural, and all such improvements are very slow processes that last too long. All of this should go faster, should be done more efficiently and more transparently.

Hence, my concluding thought is that if you are a realist, then you must also be a pessimist. Because in spite of outstanding achievements in certain areas, such as science and technological development, in other areas such as learning from experience, creating a better living environment, work-stimulating environment and all the way to establishing an effective integrated management system in crisis and emergency situations, we are significantly behind achievements that have quality. And we have no real justification for these delays.

Assistant Professor Robert Mikac, PhD, has both practical and theoretical experience concerning various structures in the security sector of the Republic of Croatia. During his career he performed various duties in Croatia and abroad ranging from the operative to the tactical and strategic level. He is an internationally recognized expert in various security areas. He specialized in the following areas: International Relations; International and National Security; Security and Strategic Management; Small Arms and Light Weapons; Crisis Management and Disaster Recovery; Civil Protection; Afghanistan; Privatization of Security; Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience; Migrations challenges; Project Management.

During his career in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia he served as a soldier, non-commissioned officer and commissioned officer. He worked for two years in the unit for the protection of VIP persons, was an operational officer in the antiterrorist military police for five years and his last position was as military police company commander. During this period he worked on very demanding tasks and participated in the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan as a commander of the international military police platoon within the Kabul Multinational Brigade. For merit in Afghanistan he was awarded the NATO Medal and the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

After that he was the Head of the State Centre 112, the body responsible for monitoring, on a daily basis, of all emergency situations and conditions in the state and its neighborhood, and coordinating activities of emergency services. At the time, he was a member of different working groups of the Government of the Republic of Croatia engaged with developing several national security strategies.

For two years he worked as an independent police inspector within the Ministry of Interior, primarily working on the harmonization of national regulations and legislation with the EU Acquis Communautaire during the accession phase of Republic of Croatia’s entry into the EU.

He then spent four years as a Commander of the Civil Protection of the Republic of Croatia and actively participated in solving numerous natural and humanitarian national and regional crises and disasters – from fires, floods to a major migration crisis in 2015.

Currently he is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb. From 2016 to 2018 he was the Head of military studies ‘Military Leadership and Management’, and from 2016 to 2020 a member of the Homeland Security Council of the President of the Republic of Croatia.

He has published two authored and four co-authored books in the field of security (in Croatian, English and Macedonian) and over forty scholarly articles. As of 2018 he is an editor in the publishing house Jesenski and Turk.

20 January 2020

Interview with Dr Vlado Azinović, Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo, and an expert for terrorism and extremism, about foreign terrorist fighters and challenges related to their rehabilitation and reintegration

‘Very personalized, tailor-made approaches, adjusted to local contexts would be needed to address these challenges successfully, and prevent them from evolving into risks or threats’

RACVIAC, in cooperation with the Regional Cooperation Council and the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized “Workshop on Developing Strategies on Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Foreign Terrorist Fighters” in November 2019. One of the speakers was Professor Vlado Azinović and we used the opportunity to speak with him about FTF phenomenon.

The foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) phenomenon has been a growing threat to many countries, especially in the last couple of years. What is the current projection, how many FTFs are there nowadays in Syria and Iraq? How many of them that come from the region have been detained there?

The emergence of foreign fighters is not a new phenomenon, and we can observe it throughout history of human conflicts in many parts of the world. The context and motivation were typically different, but the essence was always the same – individuals and groups had been traveling outside their countries or territories of origin, to fight alongside a waring faction, or in pursuit of their own interests and goals, in conflicts that had been fought elsewhere. Such outside involvement had also produced a number of similar consequences for many conflicts as they had typically (a) lasted longer, (b) were more brutal as foreigners had little or no compassion toward their local enemies and innocent civilians alike, and, finally, (3) the presence of foreign elements in an internal conflict had always hampered efforts aimed at establishing or implementing peace agreements. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now estimate that up to 50.000 individuals from almost 120 countries and territories (out of the current 193 UN member states) had traveled to Syria and Iraq from 2011 until 2018. After the military defeat of ISIS (Daesh) in March 2019 a few thousand FTFs and their families remained in the conflict zone, mostly in prisons or refugee camps. Among them are a few hundred persons from South-Eastern Europe or diasporas from the region in the West. The bulk of these individuals are women and children. In addition, as is often quite forgotten, there are also a few dozen individuals from the region associated with ISIS’s main rival group in Syria - Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), previously known as al-Nusra Front. They are still at large, in and around the town and province of Idlib in North-western Syria, close to the border with Turkey.

Some reports identify South-Eastern Europe as one of the main sources of FTFs, along with Western Europe and the Middle East. What are the motivational factors for these individuals to join a terrorist group?

The foreign fighter phenomenon has been researched extensively over the last few years, and dozens of relevant studies and research projects on the issue have been published. These efforts typically recognize at least two types of motives, associated with the so-called push and pull factors (terms borrowed from the theory of migrations) but others as well. Notwithstanding these efforts, and immense body of expertise behind them, it is only when you get to meet former foreign fighters, when you talk to them, when you meet their families, look into their personal police files, their school and medical records, that an understanding of their personal circumstances and motives really begins to emerge. And what you get in the end, and in real life, typically doesn’t match the usual academic or theoretical interpretations. Every single case is specific and different from others. There are, of course, a number of commonalities, but for us to assume that we can understand individual motivation for and drivers of radicalization and recruitment for terrorist groups, from hundreds of miles afar and solely based on our readings of what other people had written about it, is as ill-advised as it is presumptuous.

It is common knowledge that the current generation of terrorists is technologically savvy and active on social media. Terrorist groups are leveraging the internet and social media for recruitment and creating a global security threat. How can we control or suppress this? Can we use it to monitor and trace their activities?

It is obviously a challenge we are still trying to cope with. Regretfully, the unparalleled benefits of the Internet and social media sometimes seem overshadowed by the level of abuse they suffer from. Until recently the unregulated nature of these platforms has enabled many individuals and groups to use them extensively for racially, ethnically and religiously motivated hate speech, as well as dissemination of and recruitment for extremist ideologies and groups. There are a number of ongoing efforts aimed at curbing the trend globally, and I can only hope that they will be successful.

‘Most of EU member states are rather reluctant to accept their citizens detained or imprisoned in Syria and Iraq. In rare instances of such deportations, these countries opted to accept just orphaned children, and in some cases, a few women’

Violent extremists have suffered defeats in Syria and Iraq earlier this year and there are many who are returning or have to be returned home or travelling to the region. They pose a great security risk. Some of them are using fraudulent identity documents to reach their destinations undetected. On the other hand there is no consensus among the countries of origin to receive them back. How can we respond to this challenge?

Different countries are responding in different ways. Typically, most of EU member states are rather reluctant to accept their citizens detained or imprisoned in Syria and Iraq. In rare instances of such deportations, these countries opted to accept just orphaned children, and in some cases, a few women. More often Western governments went on to cancel citizenships of their FTFs or supported the establishment of international courts that would try their nationals for involvement in foreign fighting in other countries. Iraq has already tried a number of EU citizens some of whom have been sentenced to death. However, these trials have been criticized for a lack of a due process and violation of human rights. The US administration has repeatedly asked Western allies to take their citizens back to their respective countries, but only a few have responded favorably. In the region Kosovo accepted 32 women, 74 children and 4 men in the spring of 2019. Also, in late December 6 women, 12 children and 7 men were repatriated to Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, for both countries, this is just a beginning of a long and uncertain process aimed at prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of these individuals.

Last few workshops on FTFs held in RACVIAC focused on rehabilitation and reintegration. What does this mean in practice? What does this process include? Where are the main gaps?

This is obviously a new challenge for all countries that have accepted their returnees, and we will have to adapt to it. Very personalized, tailor-made approaches, adjusted to local contexts would be needed to address these challenges successfully, and prevent them from evolving into risks or threats.

Among those returning there are many women and children who might or might not have been involved in violent activities. Children are an especially vulnerable group. What about them? Can you elaborate more on this?

Most of the children are actually victims of their parents’ bad decisions in life, or were simply born in Syria. Therefore, they should be primarily treated as victims, regardless of the fact that we now know that some children have received military trainings at the age of six, while some have allegedly taken part in atrocities and war crimes. The treatment of these children should be thoughtfully considered and carried out delicately with full respect of their rights and existing national legislations that treat juvenile delinquency.

‘Evidence gathering, and identifying and bringing witnesses to testify in trials, are oftentimes the greatest challenges for many prosecutors’

You are serving as an expert witness for prosecution in terrorism related cases before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. What are the main challenges in the process of evidence gathering and investigation of offences related to FTFs?

Typically, judges and juries appreciate an abundance of evidence that can help them decide, beyond reasonable doubt, that the indicted individuals had indeed joined some of the terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and participated in conflict there. To secure a conviction, prosecutors should therefore present a witness or witnesses who could corroborate such claims. This is not always easy. In order to secure convictions, prosecutors sometimes opt to strike plea bargains in exchange for lesser sentencing. Such deals are not only welcomed by the general public but legal experts as well, as it is believed that such rulings undermine the deterring impact they are supposed to make. So, evidence gathering, and identifying and bringing witnesses to testify in trials, are oftentimes the greatest challenges for many prosecutors.

National legislation in the SEE region varies from one country to another. What are the most common offences that FTFs can be prosecuted for?

Many countries have over the last few years criminalized foreign fighting as such, so some of the FTFs could be indicted for actual participation in an international armed conflict or joining terrorist groups there. Also, and depending on circumstances in each particular case, individuals could be prosecuted for a variety of FTF-related criminal offences such as financing, recruiting, facilitating, training, providing material support, inciting terrorist or foreign fighting activities.

In recent times there were many discussions and talks held on the possible new wave of illegal migrations that might include a significant number of FTFs coming to the EU. One of your books recently published is titled “Waiting Game - the Western Balkans and Returning Foreign Fighters”. What do you think, is South-East Europe again (now) in a “waiting game” phase?

We probably are, as we are at the receiving end of a process that we cannot influence in any significant way, but can only try to mitigate and cushion the blow of such migrations.

Professor Vlado Azinović works at the Department of Peace and Security Studies, School of Political Science, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also appointed honorary professor at the University of Exeter, UK, and serves as an expert witness for the prosecution in terrorism related cases before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as a consultant to UN, OSCE, IOM, British Council, Radicalization Awareness Network and International Republican Institute.

Professor Azinović received his PhD in Political Science from the American University of London (UK) and MA in International Relations from Vermont College of Norwich University (USA). Between 1995 and 2008 he worked as a senior editor at Balkan Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Prague (Czech Republic).

Azinović is the author, co-author or editor of Talks About Terrorism and Us (2018), Understanding Violent Extremism in the Western Balkans (2018), Understanding Violent Extremism in The Western Balkans (2018), A Waiting Game: Assessing and Responding to the Threat from Returning Foreign Fighters in the Western Balkans (2018), Between Salvation and Terror: Radicalization and The Foreign Fighter Phenomenon in the Western Balkans (2017), The Geostrategic Aspects of Jihadist Radicalisation in the Western Balkans in The Challenge of Jihadist Radicalization in Europe and Beyond, European Policy Center (2017), The New Lure of the Syrian War: The Foreign Fighters’ Bosnian Contingent (2016), Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Nexus with Islamist Extremism (2015), The Lure of the Syrian War: The Foreign Fighters’ Bosnian Contingent (2015), Bosnia and Herzegovina and Terrorism 1996-2011: Defining the Threat, Devising Counterterrorism Strategy in John J. Le Beau’s The Dangerous Landscape; International Perspectives on Twenty- First Century Terrorism (2013), Introduction to the Studies of Terrorism (2012), Assessing the Potential for the Renewed Ethnic Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Security Risk Analysis (2011), Al Qaeda in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Myth or Present Danger? (2007) as well as other book chapters, articles, essays, reviews and projects on terrorism-related issues.

Professor Azinović is the main editor of the Democracy and Security in South-Eastern Europe journal and co-founder and Secretary General of the Atlantic Initiative.

25 September 2014

Interview with Dr Evangelos Ouzounis, Head of Secure Infrastructure and Services Unit, ENISA

At the very outset could you please explain what ENISA is and what it does?

ENISA is an EU agency that was established 15 years ago. ENISA supports the EU Member States, EU Commission and private sector when it comes to understanding cyber security challenges and risks and helps them adopt the appropriate good practices. It also assists the Member States in the implementation of EU policies, for example the NIS Directive or in the past the Article 13a or even Article 19 of the eIDAS.

We are not legislators so we cannot take policy initiatives ourselves. Also, we are not an operational body. We do not send the first response in a cyber-crisis situation but we do react and communicate our position and recommendations to mitigate the incident. Our efforts focus only on the EU, i.e., we don’t have an international relations component. We do our best to be as helpful to Member States and private sector as possible with our limited but very skilful resources.

The Agency works closely with the Members States and the private sector on delivering advice and solutions in several areas, including cyber security. Is there a common EU cyber security strategy or act?

Yes, there is an EU strategy adopted and published a few years ago. It is an effort aimed at bringing the Member States together to collaborate on this topic. It is an important initiative with many interesting tasks. The EU cyber security strategy recognizes the importance of the topic and its impact on the EU economy and society.

How many EU Member States have their own national Cyber Security Strategies?

Today, all EU Member States have their own cyber security strategies. It took some time for the EU countries to understand and develop their approach. We are assisting EU Member States in understanding the issues and challenges, e.g. by developing numerous good practices in this area. There are, obviously, as with many other aspects in the EU, different “maturity levels”. The good thing is that all of them have really developed their strategies and are actively pursuing them. There are countries in the early stage - they have just finished their strategy a few years ago - but also there are countries that are now in a second or third stage. We are very happy to see that EU states are progressing and developing and ENISA helps them a lot when it comes to addressing their needs.

The Cyber threats environment is changing constantly and quickly. What is the most challenging thing for the EU Member States in meeting the cyber security threats? Is it response capability, public-private partnership, cooperation or something else?

For the countries that have not developed their capabilities, skills, knowledge and expertise yet one big challenge is to develop particular capacities in this area like responding to incidents. They also need to streamline the existing policy and regulatory governance framework, to identify the agencies and the organizations which have to deal with the topic, to give them a particular mandate and recruit the appropriate people and somehow give them the opportunity to defend the country, the society and the economy. This means, for example, having a national CSIRT, running national exercises, or operating a cyber security centre.

The second challenge is to collaborate with the private sector because the assets are mainly in the hands of the private sector. In our opinion, you cannot overregulate or order the private sector to do certain things in this area. So, you need to find the appropriate way of engaging with the private sector and follow a win-win approach.

There are also other challenges like keeping the ordinary citizens aware of the cyber security threats and risks or developing appropriate new talents with the necessary skills, e.g. at the universities. As you know, there is a shortage of skills in this sector.

Finally, it is also important to build the skills and expertise of the law enforcement agencies and give them appropriate means to run after cyber criminals.

So there are many challenges; it’s a long journey actually without a final destination.

ENISA recently launched the National Cyber Security Strategies Evaluation Tool. Could you explain what its main purpose is?

The tool aims at helping the Member States to evaluate the success and impact of their strategies. This tool gives them the opportunity to assess their strategic objectives and their tasks. If the tool identifies gaps in a strategy, it offers them ideas and recommendations for improvement. So the persons dealing with the cyber security strategies can easily understand what is missing and choose one or more recommendations to implement.

We had a study on evaluating strategies in the past, about 2-3 years ago. It was a long paper. And you know, people are very busy nowadays and we saw that creating a web-based tool will be more appropriate and user-friendly. We have modernized our approach, we added some elements that will be timesaving and easy to use. We were looking forward to seeing the feedback and so far, the feedback is overwhelmingly good.

At the beginning of September 2018 the EU Commission proposed the establishment of a Network of Cyber Security Competence Centres. What could this initiative bring for EU and its Member States in the future?

As you said this is a proposal of the EU Commission suggesting the establishment of a Network of Competence Centres to be identified in Member States. The idea is to bring these national centres together to collaborate, work together and share resources on emerging cyber security topics. By doing so, we basically put together European and national resources and skills to address significant cyber security challenges in a coordinated manner. The national and European initiatives will be better synergised and the end result will be more suitable for them. It is a very interesting concept.

Who will lead this Network? ENISA or someone else?

The lead role will probably be assumed by an independent structure. I believe that the EU Commission has some ideas and they are discussing them with the Member States at the moment. Most probably, ENISA will contribute to the topics but won’t have a leading role. But, it is too early to say as the debate with EU Member States, private sector and civil society is ongoing.

You have already mentioned the public-private partnership. The cooperation between the public and private sector is very important when it comes to critical infrastructure protection. What is the current status of public-private partnerships in the field of cyber security in the EU?

It is a developing topic. Ten years ago there were only a few countries actively pursuing public-private cooperation. Nowadays we estimate that approximately 15 countries have enough maturity and initiatives to cover the topic. There are many aspects that play a role. We have seen public-private partnerships emerging in countries like the UK and the Netherlands, some Scandinavian countries and later on Germany and France. There are different models we have identified, namely from the Goal Driven model to complete outsourcing or tight Control.

We have no particular opinion regarding suitability, we just analyse different models and come up with examples of good practices. Public-private cooperation has also to do with the regulatory culture of the country. Depending on how you have collaborated with the private sector over the years in other sectors you will most probably do the same with cyber security. If your approach is to have a strong control of the private sector, then you enforce particular requirements and then you audit them to see how and whether cyber security is improved. That’s your cooperation model. On the contrary, if you believe that the private sector is accountable and should do its utmost to protect its assets then you follow a more participatory co-operation model.

At ENISA we are in favour of less regulation because you cannot regulate trust, and trust is the fundamental component of such collaborations.

From ENISA’s experience, what are the main challenges in establishing and developing public-private partnerships? What could be done to advance this cooperation/collaboration?

As I said the most important thing is to establish trust. You cannot command trust, you cannot regulate trust, so you have to develop it.

For that you need time to follow a very focused approach and care about the interest of all parties. As you know the private sector doesn’t always trust the public sector and they will not easily reveal information about their affairs. They are afraid that it will be used against them. So you have to remove this fear of punishment and develop the relationship in such a way that there is mutual benefit. But this takes time.

So, in my opinion, it is the responsibility of the public sector to drive and demonstrate the quality of this collaboration. And this is where it becomes a little bit difficult because the public sector doesn’t have the appropriate culture to approach the private sector. Also, you have to find some incentives to motivate the private sector to participate, put on the table resources and the means so that meetings and trusted information sharing takes place on a regular basis. And you have also to contribute information from the public sector to the private one. It cannot be that you are there only to listen and to get information from the private sector. It should be a win-win situation. And you have to be a bit careful about how you engage with the regulators, the police and the intelligence. So there has to be continuity so as not to upset the private sector. And above all, I think you have to show to the private sector that they are responsible for protecting their own assets and it is in their business interest to do so and if they do it properly then the state is there to help them do it better.

For years, RACVIAC has been addressing the topic of a public-private partnership especially in the area of critical infrastructure protection, as well as cyber security issues. Where do you see the possibilities for further cooperation between RACVIAC and ENISA?

We collaborate with all relevant institutions in the EU. It will be a pleasure to collaborate with RACVIAC as well.

Normally, we develop good practices on numerous topics and make them available to Member States and private sector. This is something that your Organization can benefit from. You can use all the document and tools we developed and customize them to your needs. ENISA could participate in meetings and workshops you organise with local communities and targeted stakeholders to present its work and good practices. Finally, if you are an eligible organisation our regulation allows you to ask ENISA to perform a small task or a project. This is what we call an article 14 request.

Dr Evangelos OUZOUNIS is the head of ENISA’s Secure Infrastructure and Services Unit. His unit facilitates Member States efforts towards a harmonised implementation of NIS Directive and Incident Reporting Scheme (article 13 a, article 4 of the Telecom Package, article 19 of the eIDAS Directive). The unit also develops good practices for National Cyber Security Strategies as well as Critical Information Infrastructures (e.g. smart grids, energy, smart cars, smart airports, eHealth and others) and IoT security.

Prior to his position at ENISA, Dr Ouzounis worked several years at the European Commission, DG Connect and co-founded Electronic Commerce Centre of Competence (ECCO) at Fraunhofer FOKUS (Berlin, Germany).

Dr Ouzounis holds a Ph.D from the Technical University of Berlin and a master in computer engineering and informatics from the Technical University of Patras, Greece. He was a lecturer at Technical University of Berlin, wrote 2 books and more than 20 peer reviewed academic papers and chaired several international conferences.

01 DECEMBER 2014

Interview with Ms Nika Jabbarova, MSc, author of “Report on The Way Forward Towards Better Implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security”

Before becoming an independent expert, you worked at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna. Can you please elaborate on your work and professional experience up to date?

At the OSCE headquarters in Vienna, I worked for the Forum for Security Co-operation Section (FSC) and the Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC) where a few of my duties included conducting an extensive statistical analysis on the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, and producing the annual OSCE report on the Assessment and Implementation Procedures of the Vienna Document 2011, among others. Prior to this assignment, I worked for the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies as a Research Assistant at where I assisted the centre faculty with variety of research, and project coordinating tasks, and at the Center for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), a non-governmental human rights organization focusing on housing discrimination, where I worked as a Data Analyst and Survey Designer.

Where did the Peer-to-peer review idea concerning the OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military aspects of Security originate from? Can you explain what the main concepts and driving tools behind it are?

The implementation of the Code of Conduct is assessed through a questionnaire on which all OSCE participating States (pS) provide their answers by 15 April. However very little is done with the volumes of information exchanges. Indeed, the OSCE Secretariat has not been given a wider mandate by the States than to provide for a statistical overview. The assessment should therefore be made by each State individually. Over time a call has been made to engage in a more meaningful discussion about the different national submissions. The States of SEE and also RACVIAC played an avant-garde role in this respect by convening this peer review event.

The objectives of the event were twofold. First, to hold a commemoration event on 20 years of the Code of Conduct and its implementation in the SEE region, and second, to have a so-called peer to peer review on the different national submissions where each State was asked to present their national replies and implementation practices and the other States were invited to ask questions, clarifications and/or make comments. In this regard, an expert study for each country was also made available. The idea was, therefore, to promote an open exchange about the different national submissions and to give opportunities for other SEE State representatives to ask questions and clarifications.

Which countries did it encompass?

The event focused on 9 SEE countries including the Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, the Republic of Serbia, and the Republic of Slovenia.

How did you establish, set out the criteria for the analytical part of the Peer-to-peer review among different countries involved?

Before starting my analysis, it was expected that each answer would differ considerably in length and quality, first due to national interpretation, and also given the fact that the military capabilities of each State differ considerably. So, the way that I chose to conduct my analysis was from the point of view of a questionnaire designer, or a survey designer if you will. By looking at the submissions from this lens, it allows the analyst to keep the goal of the questionnaire firmly in mind, while at the same time analyze each question from the perspective of the respondent. This was a useful strategy because it measured the respondent’s ability to provide accurate and useful information by focusing on the response itself, and in turn on the question itself. The 2010 Reference Guide was also a useful tool in this regard, as it provided a comprehensive list of references to work off of.

What is the general assessment you could make of their performance?

Analysis of the 2014 submissions revealed two main issues: the States’ ability to provide accurate and useful information decreased significantly as certain sub-questions began asking two different things in one question; and repetitive sub-questions decreased States’ ability to comprehend and effectively respond to certain questions despite the fact that the reference guide provided useful guidance on how to answer each question. Hence, the repetitive nature and language of the questions led to non-response and in many instances misinterpretation. To avoid this, I provided a number of suggestions that participating States could consider should there be any subsequent update to the questionnaire including the possibility of merging, extracting and re-phrasing certain sub-questions. Details of the suggestions can be found in the report.

In general, we can observe that there are obvious gaps between the questionnaire, the reference guide and the actual answers being provided. The evidence which I have collected from the submissions provided in the last couple of years offer good insight not only into how the Code is implemented, improved, and deepened across the OSCE region, but also, insight into specific technical issues within the questionnaire which make it difficult for States to provide the kind of answers that the Code requires, and the reference guide advocates.

What suggestions and advice for the future did you provide on an individual basis? Can you give a few examples?

Of course, there is simply no single way of answering the sub-questions, and this was evident by the answers that each State provided. However, there are basic guidelines which have been offered by the reference guide, and my suggestions were based on both the kind of answers that the reference guide advocated and the Code required. A few examples include:

Section I, sub-question 3.2 which asks States to provide information on how they pursues arms control, disarmament and confidence-and security-building measures with a view to enhancing security and stability in the OSCE area. Certain pS provided no answer for this sub-question, and instead the reader was asked to refer to the answer provided under sub-question 3.1. However, majority of the time, the lack of detail in sub-question 3.1 fails to cover all of the substantive references underlined in the reference guide that would also effectively answer sub-question 3.2. As such, more information can be provided with regards to internal regulations, and international contribution in pursuit of commitments in the field of arms control, disarmament, and CSBM’s.

Section II, sub-question 2.3 which asks States about the roles and missions of military, paramilitary and security forces, and how does your State control that such forces act solely within the constitutional framework. Certain pS only provide a list of duties without description on how the State ensures that the forces act within the constitutional framework. In future replies, more detail can be given with regards to Government oversight.

Section II, sub-question 4.3 which asks States to provide information on how they ensure that the armed forces are not used to limit the peaceful and lawful exercise of human and civil rights by persons as individuals or as representatives of groups nor to deprive them of national, religious, cultural, linguistic or ethnic identity. Certain pS should re-focus their answer to non-limitation of human and civil rights by the armed forces, as opposed to of the armed forces. It would benefit to highlight, for example, additional special training of military forces on human rights law in preparation for peace missions.

Section III, sub-question 2.1 which asks States to provide information on the national point of contact for the implementation of the Code of Conduct. The majority of them provide only the name of the department in charge. In future replies, it is recommended to list a contact person, address, and phone number in future replies.

What would your main recommendations be from the South East European Perspective?

As it has been stated before, the countries of SEE have come a long way in the implementation of the Code of Conduct. Seeing as all participating States of the region comply with the annual information exchange, my main recommendation for SEE would be to continue focusing on activities which emphasize the qualitative analysis of the Code of Conduct in order to continue to improve the quality of replies. In this regard, RACVIAC’s role in hosting this conference sets an important foundation in promoting the Code of Conduct on an analytical front in both the SEE region, and the OSCE region as a whole.

How would you rate this exercise overall and what suggestions for improvement can you offer?

Given the fact that this was the first exercise of its type, I think the results were very successful. This is a great opportunity to bring participating States together and to share experiences, to explore challenges and to find effective ways to resolve them. From the feedback that we have received from the participating States, there is ample reason to have a qualitative analysis of the submissions, and continue with this useful practice in the future as there is much potential in the Code of Conduct that is yet to be uncovered. The idea of sharing experiences and implementation practices is what makes this type of exercise, and the Code of Conduct, successful.

One suggestion to improve the exercise in the future would be to tailor the peer-to-peer review on two levels, one on the political level and one on the working level, which concerns the implementation. In this regard, it may be beneficial to hold a two-day event, with the morning session focusing on both the political and the working levels, and the second day focusing solely on the implementation level.

*Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.

20 March 2014

Interview with Mr Mark Albon, Director of OPCW International Cooperation and Assistance Division

The OPCW recently received the Nobel Peace prize for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons. Can you tell us how this was received in the OPCW? How has it affected the work of the OPCW and the work of your directorate?

Well the announcement that the OPCW had won the Nobel Peace prize was somewhat unexpected. I think at the time we were not even aware that we had been nominated for the Peace Prize in 2013. On the day that the announcement was made I think there was a great deal of very pleasant surprise in the Organization, everybody was obviously feeling very happy about the honour that had been bestowed on the OPCW. I think that there was a sense that the hard work that we'd been doing over the last sixteen years had been recognised by the international community for the value that it has brought. The affect on the work really, I suppose has been that it has moved the OPCW closer to centre stage, in terms of the international community's response to issues related to weapons of mass destruction. I saw one article which described us an obscure, small organization working in the Hague and I think we're probably less obscure than we used to be. More people know about us, more people know about what it is that we do and of course if you combine that with our activities in Syria, which have also been highlighted in the international media, then the two things together I think have brought a renewed focus to the OPCW and a renewed appreciation by the international community for the work that we do.

OPCW received worldwide recognition for its efforts in Syria. Can you please tell us about the current situation there and in other hotspots where the OPCW is active?

The current situation is that the Syrian government has of course joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and has undertaken all of obligations in accordance with its joining of the convention and there is an ongoing program to eliminate the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria. This program has been accelerated quite significantly, because of the situation in Syria, but the terms and the circumstances of the chemical weapons program destruction in Syria has been done with the agreement and acquiescence of the government of Syria, as well as of course with the rest of the States Parties working through the Executive Council of the Organization. The project is ongoing, so chemical weapons in Syria are being removed and will finally be destroyed outside of the country. All of the precursor chemicals are being removed. It's our expectation that the agreement that Syria reached with the international community, with the rest of the States Parties, on how they will go about the process of eliminating their chemical weapons, will be met. Whether it gets met exactly as it was originally intended with the original time frames, that is still open to consideration. We hope of course that they will meet those deadlines.

How do you see the OPCW developing in the future?

I think the OPCW is actually at a bit of a crossroads, in terms of it's history. The program which is taking place in Syria, notwithstanding, the destruction of the declared chemical weapons around the world are getting towards the stage where the programs will be finalized. So the US and the Russian Federation, which are the two largest outstanding programs to be finalized, are getting close to the date of finalization. I think we'll see over the next few years those programs will be finalized and then we will have reached the point where all the States Parties who have declared a possession of chemical weapons will have had them destroyed. Which will mean that we'll have to change the strategic focus of the Organization from one which is focused on the destruction of chemical weapons stockpile, to one which is focused on ensuring that chemical weapons are not manufactured again in the future. It will be a more focused process of industrial verification and ensuring that chemistry being used around the world is indeed used for peaceful purposes.

Two countries have not yet ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, while four countries have not signed it. Why do you think that is and do you think this will be resolved in the foreseeable future?

Well I think the convention has a requirement that we work towards complete universality. All states in the world should join. The reality is that the Chemical Weapons Convention today with 190 states parties is already the most successful and the most widely implemented arms control and non-proliferation treaty in history. The outstanding six countries have a variety of different reasons why they haven't joined the convention to date. I think we're quite hopeful that countries like Angola, Myanmar and South Sudan will join in the relatively near future. It's important to know that throughout the six countries that haven't joined, there isn't one of them that has a policy objection to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The remaining three, I've mentioned Angola, Myanmar and South Sudan who have no specific regions not to join, but Egypt and Israel have a unique relationship given their history and there are some elements to their position on joining the Chemical Weapons Convention which relate to other issues around weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons and so on. So there are some complexities to that issue and until those complexities, which are unrelated to the Chemical Weapons Convention are resolved, getting them to join will be more of a challenge. Of course North Korea is a state with whom communication is challenging at the best of times. So we are working towards it, we are hopeful that we will achieve full universality over the next few years.

What obstacles are faced in the implementation of the Convention?

I think the main obstacle is of course ensuring that there is sufficient understanding and capacity in the States Parties to implement the Convention. There is an ongoing need to ensure that States Parties understand their obligations fully and that they have all the tools and mechanisms available to them to be able to implement the Convention as it was intended. This is a very complex instrument, it's not an easy process. It's not a simple case of signing and you've completed your obligations, there are ongoing obligations over time which relate to declarations around industrial chemicals, receiving inspections and so on. So I think the complexity of the treaty is probably one of our biggest challenges. But, at the same time, I think there is a very healthy and robust willingness on the part of States Parties to ensure that they implement this convention, because I think it is a model for other similar treaties. So even though it is a very complex treaty to implement I think sSates Parties take on that complexity to demonstrate that it can actually be achieved.

How much of a threat to global security do chemical weapons still represent and what would the next steps be once all countries have ratified and succeeded to the Convention?

Well again, I think chemical weapons in their classic form, the way we understand them from World War I, are a reducing threat. I don't think that there is a tremendous threat that you would see the development of a large scale chemical weapons program in the classic sense of the word. I think the threat that chemicals being used as weapons represent, are more asymmetric. I think there is the possibility that non-state actors could use industrial toxic chemicals, chemicals which are available in the public market, in some kind of terrorist attack. I think that's probably the more likely scenario. Which again, makes it so terribly important that States Parties have the necessary tools available to them to be able to implement the Convention and apply the necessary controls in each of their States Parties to ensure that these chemicals are not easily available to people who would use them for criminal purposes. Then I think probably the next steps in terms of where to after the Chemical Weapons Convention, I think the Chemical Weapons Convention represents a model for other regimes. I think that there are more lessons to be learned from what we've done in this Convention that could apply to other areas. I think that the great success of the Chemical Weapons Convention has been that it's shown that the international community, with hard work and good will, can achieve the elimination of an entire category of weapons.

In your opinion, what impact has the Chemical Weapons Convention had on South East Europe?

You have one country in South East Europe which had a chemical weapons program and which went ahead and declared it and then destroyed that chemical weapons program and I think that that's a very positive thing. I think that it demonstrates that the Convention is a force for peaceful progress in the region and I think that the cooperative nature of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the fact that it really emphasizes an underlying process of cooperation among States Parties to make it work effectively, has had a very positive effect on South East Europe. I think that the course we're having here this week and the fact that we have representatives from so many States in the region, demonstrates the sort of cooperative nature of the Convention and the requirement that it has on States Parties to work together on a positive common goal, that is of course the elimination of these weapons and ensuring that they are not used in the future. I think anything that contributes to that sense of positive cooperation is something which is to be encouraged.

What is the main message you wish to convey during your lecture at RACVIAC?

I think it follows on what I've already said, it's all about cooperation and working together, identifying the necessary goals that you have, and of course in terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention they are very clear, eliminating the weapons and making sure that they are not returned in the future. So I think that the key message is to continue to work together, to identify what the challenges are and to be creative about how to overcome those challenges. I think that each region has different challenges. Here you have a different industrial profile, you have a different political history and all of these things play into the challenges that you face and I think that those challenges can be overcome with good will and hard work and cooperation among the regional partners. I would encourage the cooperation that's already taking place and urge the participants here this week to use this as an opportunity to get to know each other, to build those networks and relationships, that will make this a successful endeavour in the future.

RACVIAC has proven to be a successful platform for promoting dialogue in the south east European region and has facilitated numerous confidence and security building measures. Based on your previous experience do you think the RACVIAC model could be applied to other regions in the world?

Absolutely, I think that the whole idea of a shared experience is what makes this kind of treaty, and particularly the Chemical Weapons Convention, successful. I think the success that we've achieved as a Convention is magnified by institutions like RACVIAC, where you have the opportunity to bring participants together and to share experiences, to explore challenges and to find unique and interesting ways to resolve them. So yes, I think that it could well be replicated, in fact, I think it is being replicated in other parts of the world, each with their own unique flavour to them. There are similar initiatives, not necessarily quite in the same model, but similar initiatives around that world that we are working with to facilitate this kind of cooperation between States Parties.

20 June 2013

Interview with Eric May, independent Media Consultant, on the occasion of Strategic Communication Conference held in Skopje

The term strategic communication has become popular in the last 20 years. How would you define it?

Strategic communication is communicating with an "agenda" in mind.

What do we need to communicate strategically? What are the basic prerequisites for it?

The "agenda" can be about the image of the organization, to influence legislation, policy, funding, etc. The prerequisites are clear outcomes and deciding how to get there. Before the strategy can be developed, the outcomes have to be clearly spelled out. Then it's a matter of mapping the best way to reach them.

A Strategic Communication Plan is the first step in establishing communication activities. What kind of a framework should this plan set out?

The first thing to consider is which target audiences you want to reach. The next step is to decide the best ways to reach them. Third, define the messages that will help you reach the outcomes you've outlined in your plan, and just as importantly, how they are to be expressed differently, i.e. tailored for specific audiences. Finally, with an effective strategy there is a follow-up: did the message reach the intended audience? And was it effective?

In your opinion and professional experience, what are the most important and/or the most difficult communication actions?

Certainly one of the most difficult things for large organizations to communicate is to admit a mistake has been made or deliver bad news. This is especially true in cases where lots of money, resources and egos have been involved. Many large organizations also seem to have difficulty communicating how specific actions will affect the lives of ordinary people, and expressing in clear, understandable terms why people should care. One of the biggest challenges is “proving relevance” to your target audiences. Too often, the attitude is “what I have is what you want.” That's a recipe for communications failure every time.

What are some basic principles of effective communication? How can one reach the target audience more efficiently?

First, recognize that communicating effectively is hard. Communication always demands a result, an action, at minimum it demands understanding. Simply saying you are “informing” people isn’t enough. Information is not communication; communication is perception. In other words, it's not what you know, but how you express it, that is decisive in your audience understanding it. Understanding what you are saying doesn't guarantee they'll believe you, which is a completely separate issue. But if you want your audience to hear you, you have to express your ideas in terms your audience understands. To do that means thinking a lot about your audience in advance, understanding what is important to them, and “framing” your ideas in those things. Doing that kind of thinking and putting it in practice is very resonant for audiences and can be persuasive; not doing it will have the opposite effect. Failure to communicate is usually the fault of the communicator.

Today the news media (the long established newspaper, radio and television media, news outlets) are simply forced to pay close attention to what is happening online. The Internet and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Flickr, podcasts are increasingly used to spread messages. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of communication?

Certainly more and more large organizations, powerful interests and politicians are using social media and the Internet to go around the established news media to “speak directly” to the public. That's an advantage to getting your message out there because the barriers are so low, and it should definitely be pursued. However, to reach large audiences, the established news organizations (which, of course have their own online presences) should be the prime focus of your outreach because they remain the primary source for news and information for the public, and by their nature will have much wider audience acceptance for your message than a blog, video or social media page generated independently by an organization, interest group or political party.

Could you outline some techniques to make online news content more compelling for audiences?

We are still in the “Charlie Chaplin” phase of the new medium called “online” and how to make it consistently compelling for audiences is still being discovered. Most people see now that online content is a unique medium, unlike anything that has come before. I'm sure that just as cinema, television, radio and print have their own well established rules for engaging audiences, similar rules and patterns will emerge for online content. Right now one of the most important qualities for online audiences is that the material feels “authentic” - it's real, and it's about real-life. That includes not only the content but especially the visual language. Successful online content is not “polished” like broadcast piece and is the polar opposite of the kind of formality we see in a press release or press conference. Emotion is another important element in compelling online content and a big reason why it is shared. Online audiences also want to “engage” with the content, to comment on it, share it and most of all see evidence that their engagement is being recognized and even reacted to; that’s a unique characteristic of effective content online. Finally, good design (known as platform “usability”) is essential. The website or online content platform must help the audience find what they want easily, intuitively and quickly or they simply will not engage with it.

You frequently mentioned “balanced and fair reporting”, while you also said you didn’t believe in objective reporting. Could you elaborate on that?

I don't believe in objectivity. I do believe that top journalists work very hard to be “objective” and that is reflected in the quality of their reporting. But objectivity is subjective and subject to interpretation. So I prefer to think in terms of “balance” and in broadcast news that is expressed in terms of time. That means deliberately thinking about how much time in a story or broadcast is devoted to the various opposing sides of an issue. The goal should be to try structure your stories and broadcasts to be as balanced as possible, expressing “objective” reporting in terms of the time devoted to the various aspects of any one issue.

You are a world-renowned storytelling expert. What is your secret? How do you know what the audience wants?

Audience tastes change, but their desire for stories remains pretty consistent. “Beginning, middle, end” has been with us for a couple of thousand years and it's still here. Compelling stories are not about big issues, government policies, or the actions of powerful interests; they are about how an ordinary person is affected by an issue, a government policy or the action of powerful interests. An ordinary person in an extraordinary situation; in a war zone, in a hospital room, at the scene of a natural disaster or the victim of a financial crisis is compelling. “What if it was me?” is very resonant for audiences.

Eric May has been called “the best trainer working in Europe today.” His enthusiasm, deep knowledge, and practical innovations have helped clients in more than 30 countries on four continents. News organizations, international development agencies, scientific institutions and global businesses work with Eric to build audience share, express complex ideas effectively and clearly tell a compelling story. An accomplished producer and documentary film maker, Eric’s passion for storytelling in television news has been recognized with the broadcast industry’s highest honor, the Emmy Award.

Eric is a teacher at the University of Freiburg in Germany and lectured for several years at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. His website is

06 Nov 2012

Interview with Brigadier General Jürgen Beyer, Director of the Bundeswehr Verification Centre

Last year, the Bundeswehr Verification Centre celebrated its twentieth anniversary. What are the main responsibilities and activities of the Centre, as well as its future plans?

It is easy to answer that because the implementation of all the obligations and rights deriving from the treaties and agreements that Germany has signed and ratified is our main task and that will remain so in the future as well. We also have some additional tasks, like providing food for thought papers and ideas to our ministries of defence and foreign affairs, as well as running some courses on arms control for the personnel of the Bundeswehr.

What would you say is the place of arms control within the defence policy in general?

From the German perspective, arms control was and still is a substantial part of the security and defence policy. In the last twenty years, arms control has proven its high value for increased transparency and confidence in Europe and its security. This success story is currently one of the strongest recognitions of arms control in our society. More than one hundred thousand pieces that are treaty limited items under the CFE treaty have been destroyed. The amount of armed forces is significantly reduced and therefore many people have wondered whether we need to continue arms control or we have reached an acceptable level. My answer is no, we haven't, because arms control can help a lot to further develop stability within the guiding principles of transparency, cooperation, confidence building and the right to verification.

What are current endeavours aimed at advancing the topics of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation?

Currently we are working on further development of the Vienna Document. We believe that the Vienna Document, as well as the CFE treaty, needs some amendments because they were done at the time when the military situation was different than today. The scenario of today does not fit into the treaties and the political decision makers have the right to get some outputs from our work and we need to fulfil this request. Some marginal amendments were made to the Vienna Document last year. If you look, for example, at training activities, where do you find today an exercise where more than 9000 soldiers are involved? This is something that will not happen again. However, there are also a lot of military units that are not included in the treaty. Just to give you an example from the Bundeswehr: an armoured personnel training centre has more tanks than an armoured brigade, but the training centre is not covered by the Vienna Document. So, if we want to stay relevant for the politicians, then we need to adjust the Document to the current needs, to the current situation.

Germany is a role model when it comes to the implementation of arms control treaties and a reliable partner to other participating countries. What are the ongoing challenges in the implementation of arms control and confidence building measures?

As I already said, we need to amend the current treaties and this is certainly something that is very high on our agenda. Information exchange needs to be done in a proper way - that is something we are responsible for. One of the major problems we see is that the understanding of arms control is very different among the participating nations and it is sometimes very difficult to find a common understanding.

Disarmament is a priority of the German Foreign Policy. What future perspectives has Germany adopted regarding arms control?

Germany recognised that arms control had as much importance as any investment into the armed forces itself. In direct comparison, arms control is much more effective than any weapon. The knowledge about the amount of military equipment, the organisational structure of the forces and military doctrine provide a deep insight into the capabilities of any military power. Based on these facts, Germany has a strong interest to maintain and even to foster and to promote the existing arms control regimes.

Restrictive armaments export policy is also one of the issues the Bundeswehr Verification Centre is dealing with. What about the regulation of the arms trade? Negotiations on the so-called trade treaty have started. How far has this initiative progressed?

I am afraid that I have to say that we went into a dead-end street and when you try to table an idea on arms control you have two options: either to find a common agreement on a very low result or go for the maximum result. We have a difficulty that not all participating nations can agree on that. That was also the situation with the arms trade treaty. I don’t expect a breakthrough in the near future, but like in all other arms control issues, it takes a long time to reach a successful end.

How do you assess the general security situation in South East Europe (SEE) with regard to arms control?

I guess the region has done a remarkable step forward for stability and RACVIAC is one good example of how it did it. It looks promising and I guess if you follow the right pattern, everything will be good in the future as well. I hope so!

How does Germany perceive the development of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces (the CFE Treaty) and Dayton Peace Agreement in the SEE region?

The Dayton Peace Accords are valuable individual agreements and only the Florence Peace Agreement or the Article IV Agreement is comparable with the CFE Treaty. As long as Article IV is being implemented by the countries that are not the CFE member states, it might make sense to implement this document. Still, I am convinced there will be a need for only one document that will cover both, the CFE and the Dayton Peace Accord aspects.

How would you assess the German contribution to the arms control in the region and the cooperation with RACVIAC?

Establishment of RACVIAC was an investment into the region and it was needed. Today, after more than ten years of successful work, Germany is convinced that the countries in the region are able to run this institution on their own. As regards the regional ownership of the Centre, recommendation from Germany is that the states of the South East European region should take more and more responsibility. Nevertheless, Germany will continue to be a reliable partner in the future for the ongoing cooperation.

What are the main goals and methods of further development of arms control? How can this issue be taken forward?

Arms control is mainly a political issue. We need good ideas, we need to put them on the table and find consensus with other nations. This is not an easy issue. It needs a lot of initiatives, energy and time. What we need in the current situation first is the readiness of all nations to sit down at the table and to discuss relevant proposals without reserve.

Brigadier General Jürgen Beyer has been the Director of the Bundeswehr Verification Centre since July 2010.

Since his military career started in 1971, prior to this he was assigned to several commanding positions and duties, starting from platoon level up to the battalion level. He also held several high ranking staff officer positions, such as Assistant Chief of Staff, G2, 12 Armoured Division; Assistant Chief of Staff, G3, 33 Armoured Brigade; Senior Officer, G3, Special Weapons Branch, Policy Division SHAPE; Assistant Chief of Staff, G3, Ops, Military District Command V; Assistant Branch Chief, FMoD, Armed Forces Staff II 3 and II 1; Assistant Chief of Staff, G2, Military District Command III/7 Armoured Division; Chief Production Branch, J2 Division, RHQ AFNORTH; Branch Chief, FMoD, Armed Forces Staff II 3; Director, Bundeswehr Military Intelligence Centre, Deputy Chief of Staff, Armed Forces Staff II. He also served as a Commanding Officer of the German Liaison Staff at the HQ US CENTCOM in Tampa, USA.

Brigadier General Beyer is married and likes sports and history.

04 Oct 2012

Interview with Mr Fabian Grass, Forum for Security Co-operation Support Officer, OSCE, conducted on the occasion of the OSCE Code of Conduct Seminar

Mr Grass, could you please explain what is the main function, mission of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre?

The OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC) was established by the participating States in 1990. The CPC supports the Chairperson-in-Office and other OSCE bodies in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. The CPC also plays a key role in supporting OSCE field operations through its regional desks. In addition, the Centre has a Situation Room which monitors developments in the OSCE area affecting security and stability on a 24 hours/7 days a week basis. The CPC’s FSC Support Section, the Section I am working with, provides a wide range of support to the Chairmanship and Troika of the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) is one of two regular decision-making bodies of the OSCE, alongside the Permanent Council. The FSC Support Section assists in the implementation of projects and of major OSCE politico-military commitments. In addition, we also enable a direct and secure channel for communication and exchange of information between the capitals of the OSCE participating States through our Communication Network.

The OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security is, as you stated, a hidden jewel among other OSCE documents. What exactly did you mean by that?

The OSCE Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security was adopted in 1994 as a landmark document in the field of security sector governance. Through the Code of Conduct, the participating States of the OSCE committed themselves to important principles of inter-state relations and intra-state conduct. The Code of Conduct sets out for the first time the requirements for the democratic political control of armed forces: all participating States commit themselves to “at all times provide for and maintain effective guidance to and control of its military, paramilitary and security forces by constitutionally established authorities vested with democratic legitimacy” (article 21). The Code also stipulates that armed forces should be politically neutral, that the rights of armed forces personnel should be protected and that all soldiers should be made aware that they are individually accountable for their actions. The Code of Conduct hence contains very far-reaching provisions which are, as described by Dr. Alexandre Lambert, revolutionary in nature. Twenty years after its adoption, the Code of Conduct is still able to provide relevant guidance on how to organize and govern the security sector. However, it is also true that the Code of Conduct has lost visibility and that it is not known to the wider public. It is therefore a “hidden jewel” in the OSCE toolbox.

Since 1999 the Participating States have annually exchanged information on their implementation of the Code of Conduct, on the basis of the Questionnaire. How would you assess the answers to the Questionnaire on the Code? Have there been any improvements in this regard over the years and how sincere are the countries in their answers? For instance, with regard to reporting on both paramilitary and internal security forces, the rights of armed forces personnel?

The participating States adopted in 1998 for the first time a document which contained several questions on how the Code of Conduct is implemented. This so-called Questionnaire has been updated several times thereafter, the last time in 2009. Currently, the Questionnaire contains 24 questions and sub-questions which cover all aspects of the Code of Conduct. Every year, by 15 April, the participating States exchange their replies to the Questionnaire among each other. In 2012, most OSCE participating States (53 out of 56) have provided replies, which attests to a very high level of compliance. Even though the quality and scope of replies vary greatly from country to country and from question to question, it can be observed that replies provide valuable insights into how the Code of Conduct is implemented in each State. Over the years we can note that the quality of replies is increasing. The Reference Guide of 2010, a voluntary document which assists participating States to structure and fill out their replies, has certainly helped a great deal in this respect. Room for improvement still exists regarding the reporting on intelligence forces or on paramilitary forces, and also on the rights of armed forces personnel. More positively, we can note that about half of participating States report in detail on the competences of their parliament, the role of Ombudspersons or how the deployment for peacekeeping operations is decided.

The SEE region, which experienced various military conflicts in the past, is very actively working on security sector reform, especially on the implementation and standardization of several internationally binding documents, agreements, rules, etc. They are aware that no stability can be sustainable if the democratic control of armed forces is not assured. In your opinion, how far have the SEE countries progressed with the implementation of the OSCE Code of Conduct?

The countries of South East Europe have come a long way in the implementation of the Code of Conduct. Today, all countries of the region comply with the annual information exchange and the quality of replies is in general among the highest of the OSCE area. The countries of the region as well as our OSCE field presences have been strong supporters of the Code and of its implementation. For example, Montenegro just recently held a seminar on the Code of Conduct for the parliamentarians of their Defence and Security Committee, and Bosnia and Herzegovina has included the Code as a constant feature in training activities for its armed forces. Also, RACVIAC’s activities promoting the Code of Conduct, including this seminar, were very important in this respect.

In that regard, could you highlight the most sensitive issues or, more precisely, the main shortcomings of the regional countries in the implementation of the Code?

Not specifically for the region, but in general, we can observe the challenge of certain information lacking in the information exchange. This includes for example detailed information on the democratic control of intelligence services, descriptions of the competencies of parliaments or the control of the police. It might also be beneficial for the countries of the region to engage in peer-to-peer dialogue on the individual submissions included in the annual information exchange.

The first annual discussion on the implementation of the Code of Conduct was held on 12 July 2012, with the aim to assess, review and improve the implementation. What was the general conclusion of the discussion?

The first annual implementation discussion on the Code of Conduct provided a good opportunity to discuss how the Code is implemented and to examine its relevance in the context of the existing political and military situation. Several good suggestions were made during the meeting, which will be discussed in the FSC. These pertain in particular to strengthening outreach of the Code of Conduct to key stakeholders, such as parliamentarians, as well as to other regions, such as the Mediterranean and North African region. A great number of delegations also called for a more detailed assessment of the annual information exchange, which is currently limited to a statistical overview.

Mr Grass, the OSCE has cooperated with RACVIAC for years and you have personally taken part in several RACVIAC activities. How would you evaluate RACVIAC's role in strengthening the dialogue on security matters in the SEE? What are the areas we could extend the scope of our activities to?

RACVIAC definitely plays a key role in facilitating the implementation of the Code of Conduct in the region of South East Europe. Your Centre enjoys access and you have established a network of key stakeholder over the years. It is therefore only natural that the OSCE closely co-operates with RACVIAC in promoting and implementing the Code. In future, I would see the merit in including different stakeholders of the Code of Conduct. This could for example mean reaching out to parliamentarians and staffers of parliamentary defence and security committees. I look forward to co-operating with RACVIAC and the countries of your region in this respect.

Fabian Grass is seconded by the Swiss MoD to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) where he works for the Chairmanship of the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) and the Conflict Prevention Centre (CPC).

Prior to his assignment, Fabian worked for the Swiss MFA as Interim Head of the Taskforce for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation (until end 2011), the Swiss Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament (2010-2011), the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (2008-10) and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (2004).

He holds a Master's degree from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva.

06 July 2012

Interview with Mr Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted on the occasion of the Democratic Control of Armed Forces Seminar

Since you took part in the RACVIAC Seminar on the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, let me start by asking you how you would assess the procedures of the Committee on Defence and Security, Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with regard to the current processes of democratic control over the defence sector?

Currently, the Joint Committee on Defence and Security of the BiH Parliament conducts its oversight activities on the basis of a few provisions in the 2005 BiH Law on Defence and the Rules of Procedure of the BiH Parliamentary Assembly. Despite this limited legal framework, the Committee has conducted a number of oversight activities, most notably the ongoing investigation into the destruction of surplus ammunition, weapons and explosives. In its current composition, the Joint Committee has engaged in the challenging task of developing a law on parliamentary oversight in the areas of defence and security. The drafting process is almost complete and the law is expected to enter parliamentary procedure this autumn.

In your opinion as the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, what are the current challenges/priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina?

First of all, political leaders need to build on the progress we saw during the first few months of this year, to continue, on the basis of compromise, to deliver concrete results, in particular in fulfilling conditions related to the processes of Euro-Atlantic integration. This also means that leaders should refrain from divisive rhetoric, including references to the future dissolution of the state. Underlying all this is the need for the parties to strictly respect the Peace Agreement and to stop challenging the foundations of this country.

Another crucial priority is to get the economy going to create jobs and to increase revenue for improvements of social, health and education services.

And finally, there is the longer term challenge of fully reintegrating the country socially, economically and politically. The country does not need to be centralised, but it must pull together and work as one in the interests of all.

RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation is a regional organization, a platform for security cooperation in the SEE. Do you think there are some possibilities of steps forward in the regional cooperation and in which segments in particular? (For instance, we have been hearing a lot about the pooling and sharing lately.)

Regional cooperation – whatever segments of society the cooperation encompasses – is welcome and to be encouraged. RACVIAC is a good example of a sensible area in which to cooperate regionally. A country should pursue its security interests in conformity with its neighbours. Security is indivisible – if one country goes its own way, the collective well-being of its neighbours will be placed in question.

Secondly, in these testing financial times, finding ways to cooperate – for instance by pooling and sharing assets – gains importance if the public costs could be lowered by such cooperation.

You have recently stated that after several years, Bosnia and Herzegovina finally has reasons for optimism. Could you elaborate on what exactly you meant by this?

At the beginning of this year, a new cross-party dialogue and a readiness to compromise put an end to political stagnation in the country. What is important is that the dialogue continues and that agreements are reached on the many issues that need to be tackled for the lives of citizens to improve and for the country to join the EU and NATO.

In addition, we need to see the different layers of government in the country working more effectively together rather than working side by side or pulling in different directions.

I am an optimist in this respect. I believe that with the ongoing support of a fully united International Community, Bosnia and Herzegovina will be one of the success stories of the 21st century.

The Office of the Brcko District Supervisor has been recently closed. We have also heard something about closing down the OHR as well. Does this mean that all of the aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina have been accomplished?

The role of the international community, and by extension that of the High Representative, is today certainly no longer the same as ten or even five years ago. Over the last few years, the international community has increasingly been applying the ownership principle: we believe that elected representatives at all levels must take greater responsibility for the future of their country than in the past, while of course fully respecting the Constitution and the Dayton Peace Agreement. Since taking office, I have used my powers very sporadically and carefully, allowing local politicians to take the lead and reach the necessary compromises to move the country forward. At the same time, the EU has reinforced its presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which I warmly welcome.

Developments over recent years and months have shown that BiH still faces many challenges and that the progress that has been made since 1996 is not irreversible. For example, repeated statements by politicians challenging the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country only serve to spread fear and uncertainty about the future among ordinary people and to delay the progress that Bosnia and Herzogovina will inevitably have to make towards Euro-Atlantic integration. For this reason, the High Representative still has a vital role to play to safeguard the Peace Agreement and in so doing allowing the EU Delegation to focus its energies on advancing the EU agenda. In this respect, the roles of the High Representative and the EUSR are complementary.

Mr Valentin Inzko is an Austrian diplomat, born in Klagenfurt in 1949. After obtaining a PhD degree in law from the University of Graz and finishing the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, he entered the Austrian diplomatic service in 1974.

Between 1974 and 1980, he worked as deputy director of the UNDP in Mongolia and Sri Lanka, while he served as press attaché at the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade between 1982 and 1986. After that, he worked at the Austrian Mission to the United Nations until 1989. From 1990 to 1996, he worked as cultural attaché at the Austrian Embassy in the Czech Republic. Between October and December 1992, he was a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission to the Sandzak region in Serbia. He served as the Austrian ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996 to 1999, followed by a post at the federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Vienna between 1999 and 2005. In 2005, he was appointed the Austrian ambassador to Slovenia.

In March 2009, he became the seventh High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He is married to opera singer Bernarda Fink and has two children.

02 July 2012

Interview with Ms Marina Pendes, Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning, Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted on the occasion of the Round Table “SSR and Gender: Implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820”

Ms Pendes, in view of RACVIAC's activity that you have taken part in, we will start with the questions about gender equality. You have been a Deputy Minister in a traditionally male-dominated Ministry for almost eight years now. How do you personally get along and in what way and to what extent do you find gender equality integrated in the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

I am glad that we are starting off this interview with the question about gender equality, particularly in light of the event that prompted it. My educational background (Military Technical University) also belongs to a traditionally male occupation. In this regard, I have to say that I had a preference for these occupations early on throughout my education, as well as later on while serving in a variety of responsible posts. A woman who, in this particular instance, holds the post of Deputy Minister, in a way challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the so called male institution, though not as strongly as several year ago when I had taken up this post. If you take a closer look at the countries in Europe or the region today, you will see this is not so unusual these days. I believe that women are able to get to grips with the problems and challenges of today and that the division into male and female occupations has lost its significance. As a result, there is an increasing number of women who have the opportunity to assume responsible positions, as well as those who readily take up these positions and do a high quality job.

We are witnessing the fact that women are increasingly employed in the Armed Forces and Police. Do you consider this a trend towards a drastic change of a women's place and role in society, notably in security institutions, or primarily yet another consequence of the financial crisis we have been facing over the last few years?

It is rather difficult to answer this question precisely. I do hope women choose these occupations because they actually want and like these types of jobs, and that is what is most important. However, the importance of permanent employment cannot be simply dismissed at the time of the financial crisis. It is a fact that after the defence reform process and introduction of professional military service, the percentage of women in the Armed Forces has significantly increased. There is an increasing number of women, even the highly educated ones, who are enlisting in the army, which is especially evident during vacancy announcements. Therefore, this is neither a taboo nor exclusively a male occupation. I think women can find their place in the Armed Forces and even build a successful career. I am especially pleased to see that in addition to an increasing interest among women in each recruitment round women are ranked among top three for qualifications and physical performance alike.

In 2010 RACVIAC was involved in Perspektiva project, which resulted in a document “Guide through Personal Transition”, aimed at facilitating transition of military personnel in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To what extent does this Guide really facilitate the transition for you and how far have your reached or at what stage is the project now?

I am familiar with the fact that RACVIAC conducted some activities on the resettlement of military personnel within the framework of conferences and seminars of the Working Group (WG1) at which the participants shared their experiences and the lessons learned. We are particularly grateful to you for the help you provided through an active participation in developing a brochure “Guide through Personal Transition”. However, over the previous years, the MoD of Bosnia and Herzegovina took various important steps at the national and international level to prepare for the process of transition. As early as 2008, the Action Plan and Transition Policy were adopted, followed by the adoption of the Transition Programme “Perspektiva” a year later. In the same year, the Rulebook on Transition and Resettlement was developed, personnel analysis completed, and three resettlement centres established. For the realization of the NATO – “Perspektiva” Programme, the MoD earmarked one million of Convertible Marks in the budgets for 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively. Since early 2010, the MoD discharged some 2000 professional soldiers who are assisted in their re-integration into civilian life through the implementation of the NATO – “Perspektiva” Programme as the authentic programme. The process is in its final implementation phase and should be completed by the end of this year.

Parliamentary oversight of security sector is also one of the areas of intensive cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and RACVIAC and we have been organizing several activities on that topic for several consecutive years. What are currently the main challenges in the defence system reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina with regard to the NATO accession process?

It is true that for several years now the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina has hosted the conferences on parliamentary oversight of security sector organized together with RACVIAC. This is our way of showing that we devote great attention to this important issue – the issue of effective parliamentary oversight over security and defence sector, as well as to the regional cooperation in the area. These conferences are good occasions for the parliamentary commissions and competent officials working in security and defence institutions to share the best practices and search for a long-term progress in this domain. As regards the challenges, I would say that the creation of political will is a constant challenge that we put a lot of effort into, but it is equally challenging to ensure the necessary resources, both material and human. We have been responding to these challenges, sometimes more and sometimes less successfully. However, for me there is no alternative to NATO and EU integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally I see Bosnia and Herzegovina fully integrated into these structures. Since the MAP, as a key programme on the path to NATO alliance, has not been put into effect for Bosnia and Herzegovina yet, the issues, or one issue in particular – the one concerning prospective immovable defence property – are currently being resolved in order to remove obstacles to participation in the MAP. In view of the draft Agreement confirmed by the Council of Ministers and the decision that is pending adoption by the Parliament, I believe all the obstacles will be removed and the efforts and activities aimed at NATO membership intensified. The budget has been adopted and although it does not allow for the MoD’s plan and programme to be fully implemented, it does represent a significant step forward, considering that in 2011 we were operating based on the Decision on Provisional Financing.

Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina has had excellent cooperation with RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation. In what areas do you think this cooperation could be enhanced or intensified; How can RACVIAC assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in a faster and easier EU and NATO integration?

You are right in saying that the Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina supports RACVIAC and that we have excellent cooperation. As you know, three of our officers have been members of RACVIAC staff for some time now. In addition to that, Bosnia and Herzegovina makes a financial contribution to covering RACVIAC operational costs. We consider the project and cooperation with this regional Centre for Security Cooperation to be part of a long-term, mutually beneficial process. RACVIAC is an indispensable platform of efficient regional cooperation which is not only an essential precondition for the EU and NATO integration process, but also the best preparation for all the participants to simply transfer cooperation instruments from the regional to a wider European and Euro-Atlantic context in the future.

Ms Marina Pendes has been a Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning at the Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BA) since 2012. Prior to this she held the following positions: Deputy Minister of Defense for Resources Management of BA from 2004-2012; Minister of Physical Planning, Restructuring and Return of the County of Central Bosnia (Županija Središnja Bosna); Head of Department at the Telecommunication Centre in Vitez, and independent constructor in a company TRZ, Travnik.

She is very active in the social and political life of BA, and has been actively involved in several international and regional events on gender issue.

Ms Pendes holds an academic degree from the Military-Technical Faculty, Zagreb, Croatia.

03 May 2012

Interview with dr. Zdenka Cebasek-Travnik, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia

Ms Cebasek-Travnik, could you please provide us with some information about the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Republic of Slovenia: what are the Ombudsman's tasks, relation with the Parliament in terms of mandate, responsibilities and financing?

The institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Republic of Slovenia was established by law according to the provision of the Constitution. The institution has been active since 1995, and I am the third Ombudsman and the first woman to hold the post. The Ombudsman's term of office lasts for 6 years. It is interesting to note that the Ombudsman is elected at the proposal of the President and it is the only position that requires a two-third majority of votes in the Parliament. The scope of the Ombudsman's activities is defined by law. The Ombudsman deals with the cases in which the rights of an individual or a group of people have been violated by the civil service and/or public service bodies or employees or the local authorities. The Ombudsman does not act upon the cases for which there are ongoing court proceedings. We may only keep track of the progress of the proceedings, but, naturally, we can by no means influence the outcome and the court ruling. All other governmental, public and local authority bodies are open to our “investigation”. We also protect the citizens' rights in the proceedings before the Armed Forces and Security Agencies. It should be noted that this is not the practice employed by Ombudsmen in all countries. Personally, I have a good cooperation with the military, at all levels. We are usually provided with everything we ask for and there are generally no problems in this regard. We do experience minor problems when we give some guidelines or recommendations that are a bit hard to accept or require lengthier implementation period. Still, the outcome is always positive in the end and some steps forward are made.

Human rights and liberties are terms with a wide range of meaning. Content-wise, what should an Ombudsman do?

Content-wise, it is not stipulated what an Ombudsman should do. Personally, I have set the following priorities for my term of office: children, the elderly and people with special needs. As I am a psychiatrist by profession and have developed a feeling for human adversities, I have to say that I have started dealing with the issue of poverty in a systematic manner as early as 2007. I have to admit that this raised many eyebrows, because Slovenia was not hit by the financial crisis at the time. However, it was evident as early as then that poverty prevented some persons from exercising their fundamental human rights. The second area of my interest is violence on all levels, from traffic violence and domestic violence to peer violence, bullying, mobbing, etc. I am interested in the phenomenon of violence in general and how legislation can help curb it. My third priority is environmental protection, i.e. the issues of pollution and remediation of polluted areas.

What are the most common reasons people contact you and which are some of the most common groups that approach you, seeking help and protection from the Ombudsman?

I would say it depends on the situation and issues involved. There are always some groups of citizens who are more vulnerable in a given period. It all depends on a number of factors and it is never possible to make exact predictions. A few years ago we were dealing with the cases on account of thousands of people having been “erased” from the Slovenian Book of Citizens in 1992. We are still often approached by people due to excessively lengthy court proceedings. Last year cases of social injustice became more frequent.

Could you give us some specific examples of cases where the intervention of the Ombudsman was required with regard to human rights violations in the Armed Forces?

Virtually all cases were connected to Labour Law. One of the cases, also published in the English version of our 2010 Annual Report, was dealing with the procedure of recognizing the right to absence from work on grounds of occupational injury. An initiator informed us about the problem when his employer, the Ministry of Defence, did not recognize his right to absence from work on grounds of occupational injury. Since his rights were not recognized due to inadequate action on the part of his superiors, the case was pointed out to the Ministry of Defence and the opinion of the Ombudsman was communicated. The Ministry undertook to improve the procedures of reporting occupational injuries. All the problems the initiator had encountered were remedied after our intervention and the initiator was able to exercise his rights.

What is being done by the Institution of the Ombudsman in order to eliminate the barriers that, for instance, prevent women from taking a more active part in politics and the political spheres of society? What can an Ombudsman in the Republic of Slovenia do to improve gender equality?

Until recently there was a Government Office for Equal Opportunities in the Republic of Slovenia (note: the Office for Equal Opportunities was abolished in March 2012), so the Human Rights Ombudsman did not have any special objectives in this regard. We have come across some individual cases in the course of our practice, although not very frequently. The reason for this is that these cases were probably referred to the Government Office for Equal Opportunities. I am afraid that there is unfortunately not much that an Ombudsman can do with reference to such cases in a systematic manner. The laws are there and they are quite well written, though not always implemented.

You mentioned the difference between the private and public sector. Do you perhaps have a general overview as to in which sector the situation is worse? Is it the private sector?

The problem is that an Ombudsman has no authority over physical and legal entities which are “not the state”. As regards the discrimination in state institutions, I can give recommendations and ask the institution to take measures against the indentified discrimination. I would say the situation is definitely worse in the private sector. There is far greater number of cases in which gender equality standards are breached in the private sector. In this sector an employer has great authority and may, for instance, fire women who have children or pregnant women, claiming they have been made redundant. In the public sector things do not exactly work that way. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman has no access to the private sector.

Considering that 2012 has been declared the Year of the Family, let me ask you what your experiences are when it comes to the protection of the rights of children, women and families?

Children represent some of the most numerous and vulnerable groups in almost every society. Slovenia is currently going through a transition period: the new Family Law was rejected in a referendum on 25 March 2012. As an Ombudsman, I endorsed this Act, not because 2012 has been declared the Year of the Family, but because the Draft Act incorporated a lot of what we he have been proposing for years. Since the Act was not passed, this will unfortunately have a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable group - children, while it is primarily this group the Act aimed to protect. We are forced to tackle some problems all over again and what is worse, children will not get from the Act what we had expected them to get, because the law will not be discussed again in the Parliament during the next 12 months. It is only the next generation, who will benefit from it, provided the problems are resolved.

On 20 December 2006 dr. Zdenka Cebasek - Travnik was appointed as third Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia. She started her six year term on February 2007.

• 1988 - 1998 Trained in psychiatry in Slovenia, at University psychiatric hospital, University of Heidelberg (1988, 1989), Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, H.H. Humphrey Fellowship – Program on Substance Abuse (1993-1994), Institute for family therapy, London (1991-1993, 1995-1998)

• 1995 - 2000 Head of the Alcoholism Treatment Center Ljubljana, University Psychiatric Hospital Ljubljana

• 1995 till February 2007 Assistant, Chair of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Ljubljana

• 2000 - 2004 Deputy Director of Mental Health Center, University Psychiatric Hospital Ljubljana

• 2004 till February 2007 Assistant Director for Education, University Psychiatric Hospital from 2004 till February 2007;

• 2007 The Human Rights Omudsman of the Republic of Slovenia

15 Mar 2012

INTERVIEW with with Colonel Joerg Kunze, Bundeswehr Arms Control Verification Centre, on the occasion of the Vienna Document 2011 - Verification and Compliance Course.

Col Kunze, could you tell us what are the new features of the Vienna Document (VD) 2011, the main novelties, in comparison with the VD 1999?

There are no significant changes in the VD 2011, not necessarily in the text itself. I think the main development, the main progress concerns the fact that the decision was reached on how to proceed in the future: so all the proposals that have been made within the five-year time frame will be reviewed and the document will be reissued. This might include some significant changes in the future as well. For the time being, the changes are of a minor nature, not so significant in terms of implementation.

RACVIAC has been dealing with the Arms Control issues from the very beginning. There are some opinions or statements that the Arms Control as a topic is “used up”, exhausted so to speak. What is your opinion on the future of Conventional Arms Control?

In fact, what we sometimes observe, individually in one nation or the other, as well as on a wider scale, is the approach that our Swiss colleague, Mr Fabian Grass, from the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre describes as “killing me softly”, by neglecting things or just doing nothing or leaving things as they are. However, if one imagines that there are at least three dormant conflicts within the OSCE participating nations, I do believe that the future of arms control in conjunction with confidence building is still very important. We should really do our best to retain it, but in order to continue, we have to adapt to the changing context.

Germany is very active in the field of Arms Control. RACVIAC itself was established as the arms control training centre in 2000, based on the bilateral agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Croatia. How would you assess the German contribution to the Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBM) in the South-East European (SEE) region and beyond?

Well, first of all we are on the supporting side of your Centre. Therefore, I think it is quite a significant contribution, not only in terms of personnel but also in terms of financial resources and knowledge that is made available for the benefit of further development of RACVIAC. I remain optimistic that in the future this contribution will continue, although all the nations are affected by the financial crisis, having limited resources at their disposal. I think that we view RACVIAC quite in the same way as we view our own verification centre; For example, our commander is aiming for the Bundeswehr Verification Centre to become a centre of competence in Middle Europe, which means that we could quite easily invite other nations to share their views and to participate in common implementation, maybe to do the daily business all together from one location, such as Geilenkirchen. This could become the future for RACVIAC as well, to be the centre for the South-East European region if the participating states show the will for that kind of common initiative. A very important issue for the Federal Republic of Germany is that we would, of course, like to contribute to the success of RACVIAC, but most of the work, the hard work of financing and staff work, has to come from the nations in the region. And to support these regions, these nations in doing this, in starting to contribute on their part is even more important than simply giving contributions or just planning the activities by yourselves.

We are always proud to emphasize that RACVIAC was and still is a very unique organization in the region, the only one dealing with the arms control issues. What is the German perception of RACVIAC’s role in the security processes in SEE? Could we do more, or what else could we do?

Well, it’s hard to make any proposals if you don’t have a good insight into what has been done so far. For me, being here for the first time, discussing in more detail what has already been done or what could be done in the future, I learned that there are lots of plans that have been developed already, lots of detailed proposals for the work you intend to do in the future. I think RACVIAC is already on a good way to follow that path which I already laid out. Nevertheless, I have come to realise that more support from the participating countries from SEE would be beneficial for RACVIAC‘s activities. I think we should do our best to remind these nations that it is their core task to get involved.

You are a verification expert with great experience. Can you please give us your expert evaluation of this particular Course?

It has been very successful. First of all, it has enabled prospective experts or those who want to become experts, newcomers, to at least work together, to share their approach with other nations. More than 50% of the participants / experts are from outside the SEE region. We have enjoyed the hospitality and openness as well as transparency of the Croatian Armed Forces, which we could benefit a lot from. It would have not been possible to conduct this course if the Croatian Armed Forces had not agreed to support us. To conduct such a course, you also need the theoretical knowledge. Escort teams as well as the evaluation teams have to be prepared before the inspection and evaluation takes place. This means that you have to prepare the units, briefings, come to common understanding, be aware what the consequences for the evaluation team might result in. For the evaluation team, it is important to be fair towards the unit they are going to evaluate, to be prepared, to have the knowledge about the information exchange, to respond to the commander’s briefing, to the things they see, to ask questions and to engage in an open discussion. You always do need a practical part in the course in order to exercise and, after having done this in practice at least once, to be able to say: Now I know what they are talking about and what I am expected to do.

Colonel Jörg Kunze joined the German Air Force in 1977. After he underwent basic military training and completed the Officers Course at the Air Force Academy, he studied electronic communication technology at the Helmut-Schmidt-University in Hamburg and was conferred the academic degree of ‘Diplom-Ingenieur’ in 1982. From 1982 to 1990, after having been trained within the Air Defence Missile Systems HAWK and ROLAND subsequently, he served within the Luftwaffe in various assignments. After completing the General Staff Officer’s Course in 1992, various assignments as a staff officer followed between 1992 and 2003, such as general staff officer for exercises within the Air Staff of the German Ministry of Defence, senior German Officer at the 5th Allied Tactical Air Force/ Combined Air Operations Centre 5 in Italy and general staff officer for exercises at the Armed Forces Academy in Hamburg.

From 2003 to 2008 he served as the German Defence Attaché in the Republic of Austria and in the Islamic Republic of Iran, before he was assigned to the Bundeswehr Verification Centre in Geilenkirchen as the Section Chief responsible for the implementation of the Vienna Document.

16 Nov 2011

INTERVIEW with Brigadier General Massimo Panizzi, Public Affairs and StratCom Advisor to the NATO Military Committee Chairman and International Military Staff

Can you please explain us NATO Strategic Concept adopted on Lisbon Summit in November 2010, especially in the light of further enlargement?

First of all I would like to commend Croatia’s efforts to integrate fully and practically into NATO after having joined the Alliance at the NATO Strasbourg - Kehl Summit. It was a very important step. Furthermore, initiatives like RACVIAC are very important to promote dialogue on security issues at regional level. That’s really good. So, congratulations to the RACVIAC Centre and to the Balkan Countries who have participated in this event and who are supporting these initiatives. I hope RACVIAC’s work will continue well into the future. Regarding the new Strategic Concept, NATO is in the process of implementing decisions taken in Lisbon in response to new security challenges. We are working on a number of different issues, trying to take advantage of new ideas for partnerships which enable us to better share information and operational culture. NATO is also trying to involve other partners in the common fight against terrorism, which is perceived as one of the major threats we are currently faced with. Cyber defence is another important domain. In June, Ministers of Defence signed an important document entitled “The NATO Concept on Cyber Defence”, complemented by an Action Plan. So, now cyber defence has moved on from being just an idea. We are now putting in place the adopted measures, which should better enable us to fight this fast-growing and worrying threat to security. Concerning the weapons of mass destruction, yet another serious concern for international security, I can say that NATO’s ballistic missile defence is very well prepared. In this regard, NATO is looking for the participation not only of NATO countries but other countries as well, Russia in particular. Our relationship with Russia, a strategic player, is very important. We are now trying to reach some practical decisions on this issue, which is perceived as one of the most important priorities for the Alliance. Other challenges fall under domains usually referred to as the common space system, common goods, and maritime space. For example, NATO is cooperating with the EU and other countries in order to counter an increasing piracy threat to our merchant shipping. Furthermore, NATO is actively contributing to international community efforts to guarantee the freedom of maritime space, especially for commercial reasons. As you can see, these are some of the different domains and aspects of NATO’s practical involvement within the framework of its new Strategic Concept.

What are the current challenges in the operation and transformation of the Alliance?

The global financial crisis makes it more difficult for NATO to counter the above-mentioned threats. As you know, we are fully involved in Afghanistan, we are still in Kosovo, we have just concluded the Operation in Libya and in a period of financial constraints it is very difficult for NATO and its member States to guarantee the same capabilities. This is the reason why the Secretary General is looking to implement the idea launched under the name “Smart Defence”, which is a way of optimizing spending. The “Smart Defence” concept is primarily about “burden sharing” of capacities, and trying to convince nations to participate in more multinational projects. In order to save money, each nation can decide where and in which projects they want to put their efforts. So, multinational projects could be a very good solution to minimise the costs while at the same time they serve as a guarantee of keeping NATO capabilities at the same ambitious levels. All these aspects of NATO’s current activities are connected: the ongoing missions, the transformation of the Alliance into a more streamlined but effective and deployable organization from the military point of view and, of course, the “Smart Defence” concept. These initiatives, are designed to ensure NATO remains a modern organization capable of facing new security challenges. Concerning NATO transformation, this is being carried out on different levels. As part of this process, the NATO Command Structure is also undergoing transformation. The number of HQ personnel is being downsized from around 13.000 to 8.900 in order to streamline the organization. NATO member nations, however, must fulfil their commitment to provide the Alliance with the right capacities, right capabilities and the right personnel.

How does the future enlargement fit into this transformation process?

You know that the open door policy is reality. All the nations that aspire to be part of the Alliance as member states can apply for membership provided they meet certain criteria. Enlargement means that more nations participate in the same efforts of the NATO family in order to tackle global security challenges.

How do you consider the role of SEE countries in NATO-led operations, such as ISAF, Iraq and KFOR. Some of them, like Albania and Croatia are NATO members, but other are still candidates. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has already completed the requirements for membership; Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro have been potential members since 2008. What are the benefits of their participation in such operations and how is this reflected in their NATO integration processes?

Many nations from the SEE region are contributing to NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and not only there. NATO appreciates their participation in the operations as being highly valuable. In Afghanistan we now have a total of 49 nations: 28 NATO members and 21 partners – non-NATO contributing nations - , as we call them. Some of them are SEE countries and their contribution is held in high esteem. However, there is no direct link between participating in NATO-led missions and becoming a NATO member. There are non-NATO contributing nations in Afghanistan who do not aspire to becoming members. But one of the prerequisites to become a Member is having security, armed forces that are modern. So, participation in NATO operations can help in modernising armed forces, making them more deployable and able to inter-operate with multinational forces, thereby fulfilling the membership criteria. The ability of nations to work together is extremely important. Interoperability is an important NATO criteria. When soldiers work together in an operation, in the field, in Afghanistan for example, the integration moment is crucial. I would say, knowing each other, building trust, understanding each other and operating together is always essential for the success of a mission.

How would you assess the role of RACVIAC in addressing different security challenges in the SEE region?

When I received the invitation to attend this Conference, to be frank, I was not well aware of the role played by the Centre. But, I was aware of the efforts Croatia had been making in exercising its new membership. Initiatives aimed at facilitating dialogue and fostering a culture of security and cooperation which are carried out by your Centre are every important for preventing security threats from turning into reality. So, I think these Initiatives should be further expanded. Bringing together representatives of different countries of the Region is a great success, considering that not long time ago it was almost unthinkable. This initiative definitely deserves to be commended.

Is there any capacity for further closer cooperation between our two organizations?

NATO Public Diplomacy is fully involved in increasing and promoting these kind of initiatives, studies, think tanks, universities etc. I hope that RACVIAC will continue to strengthen its cooperation with NATO. It is worth mentioning here that the Chief of NATO Public Diplomacy is a Croatian Ambassador who has a very active role in promoting NATO.

Brigadier General Massimo Panizzi has been the Public Affairs and StratCom Advisor to the NATO Military Committee Chairman and International Military Staff since July 2008. Prior to this, after finishing the Military Academy, he served as a Company Commander in the Battalion Alpini and the Alpine Military School; Deputy Chief of Public Information Cell within Multinational Division South East and Military Assistant and Interpreter in French of the Multinational North Brigade’s Commander in the missions “Joint Guardian” and “Joint Endeavour” in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Vice Director to the Public Information Agency of the Italian Army General Staff; Commander of the Alpini Battalion in the mission “Joint Guardian” in Kosovo; Chief Public Information Officer and the Communication Advisor of the KFOR Commander; Military Assistant to the Deputy Commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq; Commander of the Alpini Regiment and the Multinational Regiment of the European Battle Group.

Brigadier General Panizzi holds several university and master degrees, such as Strategic Sciences, International and Diplomatic Relations, European Studies, Military International Studies and Peace Keeping and Security Studies.

26 Oct 2011

INTERVIEW with MajGen Torres, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords

General, could you please explain the main function/role of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords?

First of all, our mission is to assist the four signatory states of the Dayton Peace Accords, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, in the implementation of the agreed arms control measures, by providing support, advice and suggestions. We are also ensuring the proper verification of the data they exchange on annual basis and supervising the collection and dissemination of all official notifications. Generally speaking, my role is to ensure that the process of stabilization flows smoothly and that there are no obstacles in the path of Article IV implementation.

After 15 years of execution and implementation of Article IV, Annex 1-B of the Dayton Peace Accords, how do you see its results reflected in the region and beyond?

We can proudly say that the mission of the Personal Representative is almost accomplished. Having reduced the armaments below the ceilings specified in the Agreement, the four countries confirmed their readiness to assume larger responsibility to implement Article IV of the Agreement on their own in the future. After 15 years of successful implementation, the parties have achieved such a level of mutual cooperation that the assistance of the international community will no longer be needed. This means that the countries are almost ready to take the regional ownership process that we started just two years ago in their own hands and proceed with the process without any kind of international support. This also shows the countries’ strong willingness to affiliate themselves with other Euro-Atlantic integration processes.

After a very successful period of the implementation of Arms Control Treaties in whole Europe, Arms Control has fallen ‘out of favour’ of many policy makers. Considering the latest developments in the CFE-Treaty, can we also expect some major changes related to the Article IV-Agreement in the future?

Many definitions, provisions, procedures and categories for armaments reductions and limitations within Article IV were taken from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. However, the developments in the CFE-Treaty do not affect Article IV to a large extent. Since the signatory states are continuing to execute all the activities in the spirit of trust, transparency and cooperation, there is no need to introduce any other procedures of implementation. However, the regional ownership process is not finished yet so we will continue with the verification activities and the trainings required. The regional ownership process is expected to be concluded by the end of 2014.

Pursuant to Dayton Art IV, four acting parties - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia – are obliged to mutually conduct the verification regime. Given the latest round of NATO enlargement and the reasonable prospect of more countries from the region joining NATO in the near future, what is the future of the inspection regime when we know that NATO member states are not obliged to carry out such inspections?

Yes, NATO countries do not conduct inspections among each other. However, all Article IV signatory states have reaffirmed their readiness to continue with the implementation of the Agreement and to further strengthen their full autonomy over its implementation. Croatia, as a NATO member, is the best example: it continued to fulfil its obligations in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement even after accession to NATO. We perceive this as a clear sign of the country's willingness to foster the spirit of cooperation. The credit for the successful implementation of Article IV, which helps the countries to advance towards fully-fledged Euro-Atlantic integration, goes not only to the OSCE, but primarily to the four countries themselves.

RACVIAC has been dealing with the Dayton Peace Agreement from the very beginning. So far we have conducted 17 activities dedicated to this subject matter, whereby we have tried to provide a good platform for confidence building in the SEE region. Do you consider RACVIAC sufficiently embedded in the security cooperation in the region, especially in terms of Dayton Article IV?

RACVIAC is a focal point for dialogue and cooperation on security matters in the region. In the eleven years of its existence the Centre has accumulated knowledge and experience on different aspects of security issues and confidence building measures, and especially on verification activities and arms control regimes. It is very important to find the most efficient way of cooperation between our two organizations. The OSCE should indentify new means and ways to gradually transfer full autonomy to the Parties in the following years. Whatever decision is to be made, I am sure it will be for the benefit of the Parties and the overall regional stability.

Major General Torres has been the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for Article IV of Annex 1B of the Dayton Peace Accords since September 2011. Prior to this he served as Deputy Commander of the Multinational Division South-East in Iraq; Chief of the Protocol of the Italian Army General Staff; Italian Army's Spokesperson; Deputy Chief of the General Affairs Department of the Army General Staff; Commander of the Armoured Brigade; Chief of the General Affairs Office at the Army General Staff; Commander of the Artillery Regiment; Assistant Military Attaché at the Italian Embassy in Egypt; Chief of Staff of the Armoured Brigade and Commander of Artillery Group. He also served in NATO missions in Bosnia and Kosovo and is decorated with a number of medals.

Major General Torres holds an Academic degree in Political Science (University of Trieste) and Master’s degrees in Strategic Science (University of Torino) and Institutional Communication (University of Rome).

12 Oct 2011

INTERVIEW with Mr Zoran Šajinović, Assistant Minister for International Cooperation, Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Over the past few years Bosnia and Herzegovina has had a significantly more active role in the field of international defence cooperation, both within the region and wider. We are familiar with the fact that the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been participating actively in UN missions for a number of years, that two units have taken part in the operation Iraqi Freedom and that your country's forces are currently taking part in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Furthermore, Euro-Atlantic integration has been identified as one of the priorities of the foreign policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this regard, would you be so kind to explain the current status of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the process of accession to NATO and what requirements are still to be fulfilled in this field?

It is correct that Bosnia and Herzegovina is actively contributing to international efforts to restore and keep peace in the world. Evidently, our contribution is in line with the available capacities and the objective status of Bosnia and Herzegovina in international relations. However, through its participation in international peace-support operations, Bosnia and Herzegovina is demonstrating an ability to be a constructive and reliable member of the international community, thus signaling a clear message that its role has changed from being a beneficiary of international peace-support efforts into being an active contributor to the same processes. Participation in NATO-led operations effectively confirms the credibility of aspirations of a candidate country to become a fully-fledged member of the Alliance. In this regard, both the NATO head office and its member states welcome and acknowledge the role of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the ISAF operation. As far as NATO membership is concerned, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made considerable progress through the utilization of so-called 'tools of partnership', namely IPP, PARP, IPAP, ID as well as MAP, a programme to which Bosnia and Herzegovina has been admitted on a single condition. The formal obstacle keeping us from becoming a full beneficiary of the MAP programme and from developing the Annual National Programme of cooperation with NATO (ANP) is the registration of prospective military locations as the state property to be placed at the disposal of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Intensive efforts are being made to reach political agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding different modalities of finding a solution to this issue and fulfilling the mentioned MAP condition. In this regard, I am optimistic and I do believe that the imminent progress in the fulfillment of that condition and the start of a new phase in the institutional relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Alliance through the MAP programme will give fresh impetus and necessary dynamics to the process of accession to NATO itself.

Mr Sajinovic, a year of the Multinational Advisory Group (MAG) Chairmanship is now behind you. Prior to that, you had been Bosnia and Herzegovina's MAG POC. Therefore, it is needless to say that you are a good connoisseur of RACVIAC. Would you mind drawing a comparison between the original RACVIAC and the present-day RACVIAC – Centre for Security Cooperation?

In the eleven years of its existence, RACVIAC has evidently gone through considerable transformation process, possibly as comprehensive as to make it hard to draw comparisons between RACVIAC in 2000, a pioneer Regional centre which primarily dealt with promoting cooperation through verification and arms control activities, and the present-day RACVIAC - Centre for security cooperation which has gained recognition as an indispensable factor competently contributing to finding solutions to a broad spectrum of issues falling under the contemporary security threats, challenges and risks domain. Indeed, RACVIAC has evolved, just like our region as a whole has undergone a transition from the stabilization and confidence and security-building phase into the phase of integration into Euro-Atlantic security structures. RACVIAC flexibility in terms of its mission, structure and the work organization, led by a vision of RACVIAC management and supported by Members and Associate members, has proved to be essential for the past work of RACVIAC and the respectable reputation RACVIAC enjoys today. As I have personally taken part in the process of establishment and transformation of RACVIAC, I perceive the success of RACVIAC with a bit of personal emotion and, if you will pardon my lack of modesty, with a feeling of satisfaction. Furthermore, notwithstanding this professional side, I am personally involved with RACVIAC through a number of friendships, and I may say that this regional networking has enriched me, just as it has enriched many other RACVIAC staff members, MAG members and participants in our workshops, seminars and conferences. As regards the MAG Chairmanship, I have taken it both as a responsible and personally honoring duty. I am proud of the fact that the common efforts of RACVIAC Members, Associate and Observer countries and the Centre's management have brought visible progress in the last year in terms of adopting a number of conceptual, strategic and planning documents, forging new partnerships and finding at least an initial way out of the insufficient and uncertain financing of the Centre's basic functions. The forthcoming period will require further commitment to this process as well as additional efforts in order to ensure political support and stable staffing with qualified and motivated personnel seconded from member states.

How would you evaluate the role of RACVIAC in the field of regional cooperation and assistance to SEE countries in their Euro-Atlantic integration processes?

RACVIAC is an important and an irreplaceable subject in the field of regional cooperation. Not only do its mission, programme of activities and even its internal organization represent a good model but also a verified instrument and a platform for practical forms of cooperation, the results of which are shared not only among its member states and in the region, but even beyond. Regional cooperation is one of important prerequisites and a test for verifying the capacity of member states to efficiently integrate into broader security, economic and political structures. The current structure of permanent members of RACVIAC is diverse and homogenous at the same time. Evidently, the countries have different formal statuses or different statuses in the fulfillment of their aspirations towards integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, as well as a different level of commitment to common goals demonstrated through a common project – RACVIAC. This only confirms the strength and the potential of the Region which, despite being potentially the most unstable part of Europe, represents at the same time an area of immense progress and fruitful cooperation. Needless to say that RACVIAC deserves part of the credit for the jointly achieved results.

Since the political and security situation in South East Europe (SEE) is subject to constant change, and by this I mean in the positive direction, where and how do you see the future role of RACVIAC in terms of regional security cooperation?

I have already emphasized the ability of RACVIAC to transform itself together with the region it belongs to and to which it offers its own professional expertise, experience and a climate propitious for cooperation. I am confident that the transformation of RACVIAC will continue in the same direction and that in each phase of further progress of the region towards enhanced stability and integration into Euro-Atlantic structures we will be able to count on RACVIAC, whose mission, structure and programme of activities are adapted to the challenges of the moment. Experience and lessons learned from RACVIAC might represent an interesting model for stimulating and enhancing regional cooperation in some other parts of the world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been supporting RACVIAC and its activities actively from the very beginning. Besides financial contributions and the active participation in the Centre's activities through provision of participants and lecturers, the secondment of officers to RACVIAC staff constitutes an important part of your country's support. Currently, RACVIAC staff members include three staff officers from Bosnia and Herzegovina 's Armed Forces. Do you see those secondments as a good investment, and can RACVIAC count on a similar support in the future as well?

The scope and the content of Bosnia and Herzegovina's support to RACVIAC reflect clear political commitment and orientation determined by strategic governmental documents such as Security policy, Foreign Policy Guidelines etc. Therefore, I perceive the support to RACVIAC not only as an act of responsibility relating to issues of common interest for the Region, but also as an efficient mechanism for the fulfillment of foreign-policy goals in the field of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation, and for promoting values and aspirations for EU and NATO membership. The financing of RACVIAC and the contribution to the structure of its permanent staff have been given high priority in my country so far. Current economic challenges and growing international engagement of military and civil personnel of Bosnia and Herzegovina in diplomatic and military missions impose a demanding task and a number of complex issues in terms of sufficiency of available resources. However, I am of the opinion that the relevant institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina will persist in ensuring the existing level of support for RACVIAC both in 2011 and 2012.

Mr Šajinovic has been the Assistant Minister for International Cooperation in the Ministry of Defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina since June 2004. Prior to this he served as Head of the Sector for Internal and External Affairs at the Ministry of Defence, as Member of Directorate and Head of the Department for Foreign Cooperation at the Secretariat of the Standing Commitee for Military Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Civil Servant at the Ministry of Defence of the Fedaration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as HVO Liaison Officer for international organizations accredited in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr Šajinović holds a university degree in Mechanical Engineering, University of Sarajevo.

24 May 2011

INTERVIEW with Ms Beverly Mercer, Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Croatia on the occasion of the workshop on Cluster Munitions.

Your Excellency, it is my great honour to welcome you here at RACVIAC - Centre for Security Cooperation. However, this is not the first time you are taking part in activities organized by RACVIAC. Could you please explain your engagement in this activity?

I’ve been invited here to speak at the opening of the workshop on Cluster Munitions, which is jointly organised by RACVIAC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia. I will speak about Australia’s commitment to the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions and also about the work Australia has been doing both internationally and in the Asia-Pacific region to support the Convention with practical assistance to help clear cluster munitions and to provide assistance to victims. I have previously spoken at similar workshops organised by RACVIAC on the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Ottawa Convention (on Landmines).

Australia is strongly committed to supporting a range of multilateral objectives including global security, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. You are also personally very much involved in different kinds of activities related to global security and implementation of conventions regarding humanitarian activities and protection of civilians. When and how did you get involved in the above-mentioned issues?

That’s right. Australia is a founding member of the United Nations, an active participant in UN institutions and the 12th largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets. We have a track record of achievement in international peace and security, including playing a leading role in bringing about the Cambodian peace settlement; playing a leading role in the negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention; initiating the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and more recently with Japan, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Australia has also contributed over 65,000 personnel to more than 50 UN and multilateral peace and security operations worldwide. My own involvement in these issues began when I was posted to our mission in Cambodia during the peace settlement period in the early 1990s. In the late 1990s I served as Director of the UN Section of our Foreign Ministry. I also participated in a year-long strategic studies course at the Australian Defence College in 2001, before becoming Director of the Anti-Terrorism Taskforce in the Foreign Ministry after September 11. In Croatia our Embassy has had a long involvement in supporting projects associated with demining or with a peace/security focus: since the financial year 2003-4 we have supported 9 projects in Croatia through our Direct Aid Program (which supports small scale projects) with funding of almost $A35,000. I have personally visited many of these projects and met with the NGOs and individuals working in these fields.

Could you please explain what the Australia Group is and what its purpose and objectives are?

The Australia Group was formed in 1985 with the aim of harmonising export controls on chemical weapons precursor chemicals. The Australia Group charter was subsequently extended to include controls on chemical production equipment and technologies which might be misused for chemical weapons purposes. The scope of Australia Group activities was extended again in 1990 to include measures to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons. The lists of items controlled by Australia Group participating countries are reviewed regularly to minimise the risk of relevant dual-use materials being diverted to chemical or biological weapons programs. The Group contributes to the fulfillment of national obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). In particular, given the absence of an international organisation to facilitate implementation of the BWC, Australia Group participants' licensing requirements are the only current form of harmonised control over transfers of biological weapons items. The Australia Group currently consists of 40 countries and the European Commission. All Australia Group participants are State Parties to the CWC and the BWC. Australia is chair of the Group and also provides its Secretariat. The Australia Group convenes annual plenary meetings and experts meetings on an ad-hoc basis to consider issues relating to policy, information sharing, implementation and enforcement.

As we know, the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force in August last year and it currently has 57 State Parties. Could you please inform us on Australia’s current status?

Australia was one of the first countries to sign the Convention and we are committed to ratifying it as soon as possible. Before we can ratify the Convention, we must complete our domestic treaty processes, including enactment of legislation to give effect to the Convention in domestic law. The Criminal Code Amendment (Cluster Munitions Prohibitions) Bill 2010 was passed by the Australian House of Representatives (Lower House of Parliament) on 18 November 2010 and is currently before the Australian Senate (Upper House of Parliament). Once all of the legislative and administrative measures to give effect to the Convention are in place, we will move as quickly as possible to lodge our instrument of ratification.

On the one hand, there are countries strongly upholding the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions while, on the other hand, we have recently witnessed the use of cluster bombs in the conflict in Libya. Would you mind commenting on that?

The Australian Government is deeply concerned by reports that Colonel Qadhafi's forces have used cluster munitions in residential areas in Libya. While Libya is not a signatory to the Convention, if these allegations are correct, it is concerning that it has chosen to use munitions that are the subject of such widespread condemnation. The Convention emphasises the desirability of attracting the adherence of all States to the Convention and contains responsibilities for State Parties to promote the universalisation and full implementation of the Convention. Australia takes these responsibilities seriously. This incident underlines the need for all states to become a party to the Convention to end for all time the suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions.

How do you see the role of RACVIAC in fostering dialogue and cooperation on security issues in the SEE region? Is there any room for extending its activities or scope of activities?

I, like my predecessors, have strongly supported the work of RACVIAC and am pleased to participate in the work RACVIAC does to address security issues in the region. I hope it will continue to address these issues and also continue to include the perspectives and experience of others from outside the region.

Your Excellency, you have been the Australian ambassador to Croatia since January 2010. How do you like Croatia and its people?

My posting to Croatia is my first time to visit this part of Europe – I have previously had two postings to Germany, so I am more familiar with northern Europe. Croatia is a beautiful country and the people are very welcoming. As you note there is a significant Croatian community in Australia, most of whom are dual Croatian/Australian nationals, and I have had many opportunities to meet and work with people of Croatian heritage throughout my career.

Ms Mercer has been the Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Croatia since January 2010. Prior to that she was Director, United States Political and Strategic Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a position she held since October 2008. Ms Mercer has extensive experience within the Department and has served in Jakarta, Berlin, Phnom Penh and Bonn. Ms Mercer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Studies from the Australian Defence College.

Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.